MAYS LANDING, N.J. – A New Jersey man is going on trial in the fatal stabbing of a man once considered among Britain's 50 most eligible bachelors.
Lavern Paul Ritch of Penarth, Wales, was on a two-week vacation in the United States and visiting friends outside Philadelphia on Aug. 12, 2007, when he went to the Jersey shore in Margate, a few miles south of Atlantic City.
The 37-year-old Ritch had goen to the beach, had dinner and visited some nightspots when he allegedly encountered Robert Davies of North Wildwood, who was fighting with another person around 2 a.m.
Authorities said Ritch tried to intervene and was stabbed once in the chest. Davies surrendered himself to the Atlantic County prosecutor's office about two weeks later. He was charged with murder and weapons violations, among other charges.
Davies plans to act as his own lawyer, although a court-appointed public defender will assist him as needed.
Ritch appeared as a contestant in the British adaptation of "American Gladiators" in 1998, making it to a quarterfinal round.
He was a swimming and fitness instructor in Cardiff, Wales; was listed in a 2002 poll of Britain's 50 most eligible bachelors by Company magazine; and was named the 12th most eligible man in Wales that same year in a local newspaper.
The BBC described him in 2007 as "a well-known clubber on the London and Cardiff scenes."
During jury selection Monday, questions posed to potential jurors strongly indicated that Davies, 49, may claim self-defense during the trial.
A jury was seated Tuesday; opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday morning.
"This case may be about alleged self-defense and the defense of others," Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury told potential jurors.
Questions posed to the jurors included whether they were familiar with any reality television personalities in the United States or in other countries.
They also were asked how they feel about "retaliation or vigilante justice," and whether they believe there is ever a time when violence can be justified to resolve an issue.
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