Portuguese man may raise psych claims in NYC death

AP News
Posted: Mar 04, 2011 3:45 PM
Portuguese man may raise psych claims in NYC death

A Portuguese model is considering a psychiatric defense as he fights charges of castrating and killing a Portuguese TV journalist in a frenzied attack in a New York hotel room, his lawyer said Friday.

Attorney David Touger said Friday he was waiting for hospital records before deciding whether to make Renato Seabra's mental state an issue in the murder case.

Seabra, who's being held in a psychiatric hospital jail ward, listened impassively and said nothing during a brief court date Friday as his lawyer filed papers seeking to keep prosecutors from using the statements police say he made to them about the Jan. 7 slaying. Prosecutors and a judge didn't immediately respond to the request.

Seabra, 21, described an argument that escalated into a viciously varied attack that lasted more than an hour, according to a court document describing his statements. He told police he choked the 65-year-old Castro, stabbed him with a corkscrew in his face and groin, rammed a computer monitor into his head and stomped on his face in their room at the InterContinental New York Times Square hotel, the court papers said.

Then Seabra showered, put on a suit and left, wandering around the city until eventually taking a taxi to a different hospital from the one where he's now being held, the papers said.

Touger said he's awaiting records from the first hospital visit to assess the possibility of a psychiatric defense.

New York law allows for an insanity defense, in which a defendant can be acquitted _ and sent to a mental hospital _ if he can establish that he was so mentally ill when committing a crime that he didn't know it was wrong. State law also allows some murder defendants to argue they were overcome by "extreme emotional disturbance"; if successful, that defense leads to a conviction on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Whether or not Seabra ultimately raises any psychiatric claims, "we're going to fight this very aggressively," Touger said.

Seabra is from Cantanhede, in central Portugal. He was a contestant last year on "A Procura Do Sonho," or "Pursuit of a Dream," a Portuguese TV show that hunts for modeling talent. He didn't win but did get a modeling contract with an agency founded by fashion designer Fatima Lopes, who developed the show and was a judge on it.

He and Castro, well-known in his homeland as a TV personality and writer, traveled to the U.S. in late December to see some Broadway shows and spend New Year's Eve in Times Square, a friend said.

Friends said the two were a couple. But Seabra's mother told Portugal's TVIndependente television network that her son isn't gay and wasn't Castro's lover.

Seabra is due back in court April 8.