Friday's opening statements offer the first public comments on behalf of Daniel Kelly since the gruesome 2006 death of his daughter Danieal.
The case exposed holes in the city's child-welfare system. Nearly a dozen social workers and administrators have been convicted for not doing their jobs.
The mother, Andrea Kelly, is in prison for third-degree murder.
A defense lawyer reminded jurors the girl weighed 100 pounds when she lived with Daniel Kelly years earlier, and just 42 pounds when she died at age 14.
Prosecutors say his girlfriend cared for Danieal, and that the father abandoned her to Andrea Kelly's chaotic home after they broke up.