Model convicted in ‘gay-panic’ case

    A model who alleged he accidentally killed a friend who was making unwanted gay advances was found guilty of first-degree murder last week.

    A Philadelphia jury deliberated for just a few hours last Friday before returning a guilty verdict in the case against Raymond Armstrong.

    Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian Ransom immediately sentenced Armstrong to life without parole.

    Armstrong, 35, was accused of killing his longtime friend Anthony Williams, 37, in Williams’ Grays Ferry home in September 2008.

    A former defense attorney for Armstrong last year expressed the intent to employ a “gay-panic” defense — used to describe the sudden, violent reaction one may have when faced with unwanted sexual advances by someone of the same sex — although the judge disallowed that defense.

    However, when he took the stand last Thursday, the defendant, who has modeled for companies such as Target and Kenneth Cole, told jurors the altercation that led to Williams’ death stemmed from an attempted sexual assault.

    Armstrong said he was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom of Williams’ house when he woke to find Williams attempting anal sex with him. He said he pushed him off and the pair struggled from the bedroom into the bathroom and to the top of the stairs. Armstrong said his wrist got tangled in Williams’ shirt and the two fell down the steps.

    The cause of death was ruled strangulation.

    Assistant District Attorney Mark Levenberg, who prosecuted the case, told PGN Armstrong was “blowing smoke” on the stand.

    “Clearly he was in a rage for whatever reason and took it out on someone who was trying to help him and ended up strangling him to death,” Levenberg said.

    Williams’ neighbors said Armstrong, who frequently stayed at Williams’ house, arrived at the home in an agitated state Sept. 27 and attempted to vandalize a number of cars before Williams, who worked at a West Philadelphia car dealership and owned his own modeling and photography business, brought him inside. Witnesses said Armstrong emerged a few minutes later, naked, and proclaimed that he was “Adam, son of God.”

    Levenberg said Armstrong’s version of the events on the stand was “incredible.”

    “His story didn’t match the physical evidence and it was completely inconsistent with his conduct afterward,” he said. “I think he would have said anything to try to get himself out of this.”

    Armstrong’s defense attorney did not return a call for comment.