A lawyer for the father who masqueraded as a member of the Rockefeller family before being charged with kidnapping his daughter has told a jury that he suffered from mental illnesses which extended to his believing he was in telepathic contact with the girl.
In opening statements in a Boston courtroom yesterday, defence lawyer Jeffrey Denner said his client, who went by the name of Clark Rockefeller but whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, had been "pushed over the edge" when he lost custody of his daughter after the break-up of his marriage to his ex-wife, Sandra Boss. "He believed that on a moral level... he had to do this to save his daughter," he said, adding that he lived in a "magical, insane world".
German-born Mr Gerhartsreiter is accused of kidnapped his seven-year-old daughter, Reigh, during a supervised visit in Boston.
They were both found in Baltimore six days later, the girl unharmed.
For the prosecution, David Deakin said that Mr Gerhartsreiter had "dazzled" his ex-wife into believing his fabricated family history with his "personality, his charisma, his likeability" while always remaining vague about his past. Investigators said he criss-crossed America for years under an assortment of aliases before meeting Ms Boss.
Prosecutors allege the defendant had meticulously planned the heist of the little girl last summer, even buying the apartment in Baltimore ahead of time.
The trial continues today. Mr Gerhartsreiter is pleading not guilty to all charges on grounds of insanity.