Portuguese model plans insanity defense in NY case

A Portuguese model expects to pursue an insanity defense against charges of castrating and killing a Portuguese TV journalist in a hotel during a trip to New York, his lawyers said Friday.

Renato Seabra's lawyers filed notice that he plans to argue he was so mentally ill that he didn't know what he was doing was wrong.

Seabra, a 21-year-old former contestant on a Portuguese talent-search show, is charged with murder in Carlos Castro's Jan. 7 death. The 65-year-old Castro, a TV personality and writer, was found dead, naked and bloodied in a room they were sharing at a Times Square hotel.

Friends have said the two were a couple, but Seabra's mother has contested that.

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.

Defense lawyer David Touger suggested after a previous court date that Seabra wasn't mentally competent to waive his right not to speak to police; prosecutors say the statements were obtained legally.

Touger declined to comment Friday on whether Seabra had a history of mental illness or hospitalizations before his arrest. His lawyers expect soon to file a psychiatrist's report, "which will verify the notice (of an insanity defense) that we filed today," Touger said.

If the defense is offered and succeeds, Seabra would be acquitted and sent to a mental hospital until doctors and a judge concluded he was well enough for release, if ever.

Prosecutors will be able to have another doctor examine Seabra, who is being held without bail in a psychiatric jail ward. He's due back in court June 28.

As for how he's faring, "under the circumstances he's in, he's under a lot of pressure," Touger said.

Seabra's mother, Odilia Pereirinha, came to court but left without speaking with reporters.