- Associated Press - Friday, November 30, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - A Portuguese model charged in the castration killing of a Portuguese TV personality nearly two years ago in a Times Square hotel room was convicted of murder on Friday.

A Manhattan jury did not buy the idea that Renato Seabra was out of his mind when he choked, bludgeoned and mutilated Carlos Castro. Seabra had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his defense team said he was mentally ill.

Prosecutors argued that Seabra and Castro were a couple and Seabra, eager for fame and fortune and believing the well-known Castro was his meal ticket, was enraged that Castro had ended their relationship.

“It is no coincidence Castro’s life ended at the same time he ended his relationship with the defendant,” Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal said. “The motive is as clear as if it were written in lights on a Times Square marquee.”

Seabra, 23, is from Cantanhede, in central Portugal. He was a contestant on “A Procura Do Sonho,” or “Pursuit of a Dream,” a Portuguese modeling talent search TV show. He didn’t win but did get a modeling contract.

Castro, 65, was a well-known TV personality and writer in Portugal.

Seabra’s mother disputed the men were lovers. According to trial testimony, Seabra told doctors that he thought of himself as heterosexual but went along with the relationship because he thought it could help him, until it became too much. His defense attorneys said the violence of the attack showed he had a psychotic break with reality and went berserk, believing he was on a mission from God to rid the devil of homosexuality from Castro.

A court-ordered psychiatric exam found Seabra fit for trial.

Castro’s body was found on Jan. 7, 2011, in a hotel room the men were sharing. A “Do Not Disturb” sign hung from the door.

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, then showered and wandered the city for a while before taking a taxi to a hospital, according to a court document. Seabra also disabled the room’s phone and took $1,600 from Castro before he left, prosecutors said.

Seabra, whose trial was delayed by Superstorm Sandy, faces the possibility of life in prison when he’s sentenced Dec. 21.

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