Wires

Model was insane when he killed Portuguese journalist - lawyer

(Note graphic and sexual descriptions)

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK, Oct 5 (Reuters) - A young model was insane when hekilled and castrated a prominent Portuguese journalist in a NewYork hotel room, believing he could "harness the power" of theman's severed testicles, a defense lawyer said at the start ofthe murder trial on Friday.

Renato Seabra, 22, has been charged with second degreemurder for the killing of 65-year-old Carlos Castro in the roomthey were sharing at the Intercontinental Hotel near TimesSquare in January 2011.

Prosecutors told the jury that Seabra knew what he was doingwhen he choked Castro and stamped on his head, bludgeoned himwith a computer monitor and mutilated his genitals with acorkscrew.

They charged that Seabra was enraged over the ending oftheir relationship.

Seabra's lawyers do not dispute that Seabra killed Castro,but they say their client experienced a "psychotic episode" andthat the jury should find that he was not legally responsible byreason of insanity.

"In the case of Renato Seabra, crazy really means crazy,"Rubin Sinins, Seabra's lawyer, told the jury at the criminalcourt in Manhattan. "This case is about mental illness."

Sinins added that Seabra was diagnosed that night atBellevue Hospital in New York with mania and bipolar disorder, adiagnosis that was affirmed by other doctors, including at thejail where he is being held without bail.

Sinins told the jury that Seabra believed he was on amission from God and that the castration was a sort of exorcism.

"He told the police they were the demons and that by pullingthem out, by cutting them out, everything will be right with theworld," Sinins said.

He added that his client told the police he believed that by"putting the testicles on each wrist he could harness the powerof Carlos Castro's testicles. Ladies and gentlemen, this isinsanity."

Seabra, dressed in a tight white shirt and black pants, worea headset in court and listened impassively to his lawyerthrough a Portuguese interpreter.

Maxine Rosenthal, the lead prosecutor, told the jury thatSeabra showed no symptoms of mental illness before the crime,describing an ambitious young man hungry for fame and money whosaw Castro as "a means to an end."

The two men met after Castro contacted Seabra on Facebookand began a relationship in which Castro would buy the youngmodel and his family expensive gifts and bring Seabra along ontrips to London and Madrid, Rosenthal said.

They traveled to New York to celebrate the New Year.

Castro was born in Angola during Portugal's colonial rule inthe African nation. He became a society journalist and gayactivist, contributing to a wide range of media, includingDiario de Noticias, 24 Horas and Correio de Manha.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Paul Simao)

((paul.thomasch@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 646 303-6092))

Keywords: USA CRIME/MODEL