God Made Me Do It Defense in 2011 Midtown Murder
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | The accused killer of Carlos Castro will argue that he believed he was acting on instructions from God when he murdered and dismembered the 65-year-old Portuguese TV personality and gay activist in a Manhattan hotel last year.
“Mr. Seabra developed a manic episode and became fulminantly psychotic,” David Touger, the attorney for Renato Seabra, wrote in a court filing last year. “He acted on his delusional ideas when he attacked and killed Mr. Castro. He did not appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, as he was acting as a conduit for God.”
This mental disease or defect defense, or insanity defense as it is more commonly known, asserts that because the now 22-year-old Seabra could not tell right from wrong when he killed Castro, he cannot be held criminally liable. If a jury agrees, Seabra will be institutionalized until doctors decide he is no longer a threat. His trial may start as soon as September.
At a June 18 hearing, Touger and Maxine Rosenthal, the assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case, said they wanted to go to trial soon. While some earlier press reports have noted that Seabra would use an insanity defense, none has noted that he claimed to be acting on God’s behalf. Seabra faces one second-degree murder count that alleges he intended to kill Castro. The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is 25-years-to-life.
Following the hearing, Touger would not say if his client had a history of mental illness, saying the judge in the case had barred him from publicly discussing the planned defense.
The defense hired a psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Harris, and Mark H. Goldenthal, a psychologist, to evaluate Seabra. He was diagnosed as suffering from “Bipolar I Disorder, Single Manic Episode, Severe with Psychotic features,” according to the court filing.
Press reports had Seabra, who had worked as a model, and Castro as partners of several months who traveled from Portugal to New York for vacation in January 2011. Seabra’s mother, Odilla Pereirinha, has denied that her son is gay in press reports. The two men argued, and Seabra attacked Castro.
In a paraphrased version of the statement he gave to police, Seabra said he first strangled Castro then stabbed him in the face and groin with a corkscrew. After removing Castro’s testicles with the corkscrew, he hit Castro’s head with a computer monitor and “stomped on Carlos’ face while wearing shoes. ”
When the hour-long attack was finished, Seabra showered and dressed in a suit. He wandered around Midtown Manhattan for a while, then took a cab from Penn Station to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital.
The paraphrased statement was in the voluntary disclosure form that was filed with Seabra’s indictment. That form and the criminal complaint suggest that police recovered all of the weapons used in the attack and they have other physical evidence that corroborates Seabra’s statements.