No Decision Yet on Defense in Times Square Hotel Castration

Friday, Apr 8, 2011  |  Updated 2:17 PM EDT
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Renato Seabra appears in court during his arraignment at Manhattan Supreme court, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in New York. Seabra, 21, is accused of killing Renato Seabra, 65.

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It's not yet clear whether a Portuguese model will pursue a psychiatric defense against charges he castrated and murdered a TV journalist in a New York City hotel room. But his lawyer expects to decide within three weeks.
       
Renato Seabra was in court Friday for a brief update on the case.
       
Lawyer David Touger says a psychiatrist is due to evaluate Seabra next week for his defense. "For a man charged with murder in the second degree, who's never been in jail or in trouble in his life, I'd say he's doing OK,'' Touger said afterward. ``But that's under the circumstances.''

Seabra is being held in a psychiatric hospital jail ward. Touger says the 21-year-old is faring all right considering his situation.
       
Police say Seabra told them he choked, stabbed and stomped 65-year-old Carlos Castro on Jan 7 in the hotel room after an argument.

Friends said the two were a couple, but Seabra's mother has said they weren't.

While no decisions have been made about a psychiatric defense in Seabra's case, 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 mentally 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.
       
In the meantime, Seabra's lawyer has asked a judge to keep prosecutors from using the statements police say he made to them.
 
Prosecutors said in papers filed Friday that the statements were obtained legally and should be allowed at a potential trial. A judge may issue a decision on Seabra's next court date, April 29.
       
Meanwhile, Seabra remains held without bail in a hospital, where relatives and friends have been visiting him, Touger said. Seabra has an interpreter at times, and "e's kind of getting enough
English that he can communicate'' with doctors, his lawyer 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.
       
If convicted of murder, he could face up to life in prison.
 
 

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