N.J. Killer of British Reality Star Lavern Paul Ritch Convicted of Manslaughter, Not Murder

In this Aug. 23, 2007 photo, Robert Davies, of North Wildwood, stands in the courtroom of Judge Michael Connor in the Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, N.J. Davies is charged with the stabbing death of Laverne Paul Ritch of Penarth, England. Jury selection in Davies' trial started Monday, Jan. 25, 2011. (AP Photo/The Press of Atlantic City, Anthony Smedile)
(AP Photo/The Press of Atlantic City, Anthony Smedile)
N.J. Killer of British Reality Hunk, Lavern Paul Ritch,  Claims Self-Defense
Robert Davies, Aug. 23, 2007
AP Photo/The Press of Atlantic City

(CBS/AP) A New Jersey jury decided on Wednesday that a man deserves to be punished for fatally stabbing one of Britain's most eligible bachelors, Lavern Paul Ritch, but determined it wasn't an act of murder.

Robert Davies, 49, was convicted of reckless manslaughter and weapons offenses stemming from the August 2007 slaying of Ritch in Margate, near Atlantic City.

Davies, an American who began the trial acting as his own attorney but later abandoned that effort in favor of a public defender, told jurors in his opening statement that he stabbed Ritch. He claimed he acted in self-defense, believing that Ritch was part of a group out to hurt or kill him.

In reality, the stabbing victim, Ritch, was a Good Samaritan out to help Davies, who had just been assaulted moments earlier by someone else.

Prosecutors said the melee was touched off by a racist insult Davies hurled toward a Mexican man in the men's room of a South Jersey bar.

The jury found Davies guilty of reckless manslaughter, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. The third charge resulted from a May 2000 conviction on child endangerment charges that led to Davies having to register with police as a sex offender. However, he was acquitted of murder and aggravated manslaughter.

Ritch, 37, appeared as a contestant in the British version of "American Gladiators" in 1998, making it to a quarterfinal round. He was a swimming and fitness instructor in Cardiff, Wales, and was listed in 2002 among Britain's 50 most eligible bachelors by Company magazine.

He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. Sentencing was scheduled for April 7.

More on Crimesider

Feb. 16, 2011 - N.J. Jury Weighs Fate of Man Who Killed British Reality Hunk Lavern Paul Ritch

Jan. 27, 2011 - N.J. Killer of British Reality Hunk Lavern Paul Ritch Claims Self-Defense