More psych evaluation in castration killing case

AP News
Posted: Apr 29, 2011 3:59 PM
More psych evaluation in castration killing case

A doctor will pay a second visit to a Portuguese model accused of castrating and killing a TV journalist in a Times Square hotel before his lawyer decides whether to pursue a psychiatric defense in the attack.

A psychiatrist visited Renato Seabra this month but needs a second evaluation of the 21-year-old model, defense attorney David Touger said Friday. Seabra was transferred two weeks ago from Bellevue Hospital to jail at Rikers Island, Touger said.

"He is medicated because he has a psychiatric illness. He is doing well under the circumstances that he is under," Touger said after a short pretrial hearing in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Seabra, a former contestant on a Portuguese talent-search show, has pleaded not guilty to murder in Carlos Castro's Jan. 7 death. Castro, a 65-year-old Portuguese TV personality and writer, was found dead, naked and bloodied in a room they were sharing.

Seabra later told police he had choked Castro, stabbed him with a corkscrew in his face and groin, rammed a computer monitor into his head and stomped on his face after an argument, according to a court document. Friends said the two were a couple, but Seabra's mother has said they weren't.

Seabra, who wore a gray suit and looked pale on Friday, did not speak during the hearing. His mother, Odilia Pereirinha, left the courtroom with a family friend and did not speak with reporters.

Seabra is secluded at Rikers and sees Pereirinha three times a week, Touger said.

While no decisions have been made about a psychiatric defense, there are two possibilities.

One is an insanity defense, in which a defendant can be acquitted and sent to a mental hospital if he can establish that he was so ill when committing a crime that he didn't know it was wrong.

New York 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.

On Friday, state Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon ordered a hearing to decide on whether to use the statements police say Seabra made to them. While the prosecution says the statements were obtained legally, Touger asserts that Seabra wasn't competent enough to waive his rights.

"He has to be in a state of mind to knowingly and intelligently waive those constitutional rights, and I don't think he was in that state," Touger said.

The next pretrial hearing in the case was set for June 3.