NEW YORK (AP) — A Portuguese model was sentenced Friday to the maximum 25 years to life in prison in the grisly castration killing of a TV personality in a New York City hotel room.
Renato Seabra, 23, was convicted last month of the 2011 murder of Carlos Castro, who was choked, bludgeoned and mutilated. Seabra had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his defense team said he was mentally ill. On Friday, Seabra asked for forgiveness from Castro's family and said through an interpreter that he didn't know what got into him the day of the killing.
"At the moment I went into the room that day, something took power over me," he said. "We used to fight each other but always playfully. I was never aggressive before. I never had any fight with Carlos. On that day, I don't know what took over me."
Prosecutors said 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 the older man had ended their relationship.
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.
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 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.
Castro, 65, was a well-known TV personality and writer in Portugal. A statement from his family read aloud by Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal in court described Castro as a talented, thoughtful wordsmith and journalist with a cadre of high-profile friends. He was a man who loved to travel and loved New York most of all and whose life was cut tragically short, the statement said.
"The other person could have stopped after the first insult. Or before the first punch. Or after Carlos Castro lost consciousness," Rosenthal read. "Help could have been called and his life saved. But no ... the beating continued and ended with a horrific mutilation."
Castro's body was found 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.