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Male model convicted in New York killing of Portuguese reporter, lover

(Please note the story contains graphic and sexual content)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City jury on Friday convicted a young male model who killed and castrated his lover, a prominent Portuguese journalist, rejecting the defense argument that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, prosecutors said.

Renato Seabra, 23, killed Carlos Castro, 65, in January 2011, and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to a charge of second degree murder at Manhattan criminal court. The trial lasted nearly two months, in part because it was delayed several days by Hurricane Sandy.

Seabra bludgeoned Castro with a computer monitor and wine bottle and used a corkscrew to sever Castro's testicles in a Times Square hotel room.

"You do not need an expert to tell you this is psychotic behavior," David Touger, one of Seabra's lawyers, told the jury in closing arguments on Wednesday. More than 20 doctors have since diagnosed Seabra with bipolar disorder, he said.

But the jury found him guilty after deliberating for a day, returning a verdict on Friday afternoon.

"This was a brutal and sadistic crime, where Renato Seabra bludgeoned choked, and mutilated his victim before murdering him," District Attorney Vance said in a statement. "But the jury's verdict now, finally, holds Seabra accountable.

"It is particularly tragic that Carlos Castro was not only betrayed by his spurned lover, but met a very painful and violent end far from his home," Vance said.

Sentencing for Seabara, also a native of Portugal, was set for December 21.

Touger, the defense lawyer, argued Seabra was not responsible for the killing because he did not know what he was doing was wrong, believing instead he was on a God-ordained mission to slay the "demon" of homosexuality that he saw in Castro, the lawyer said.

Seabra was found by police at a Manhattan hospital where he had checked in under his real name after arriving by taxi.

Maxine Rosenthal, the lead prosecutor, told jurors that driving to the hospital was a ruse to feign insanity, as Seabra knew the body would soon be discovered. She described Seabra as an opportunist who was "playing the role of the loving boyfriend" to exploit Castro's wealth and connections. He was angry that Castro had ended their relationship, prosecutors said.

Castro, who met Seabra through Facebook, was a gay-rights activist and journalist, writing about fashion and society for Diario de Noticias, 24 Horas and Correio de Manha.

As their relationship dissolved into fierce arguments during their stay in New York, Seabra became enraged, Rosenthal told the jury.

After killing Castro, Seabra disconnected the room phone, dismantled Castro's cellphone, and put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door as he left to buy him more time, she said. He took with him about $1,600 from Castro's wallet and their flight itinerary, fully intending to flee, she said.

"That shows presence of mind, it is deliberate action and is inconsistent with delusion," Rosenthal said.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Eric Walsh)

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