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Florida Supreme Court grants new trial to Spanish national convicted of triple murder

February 9, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Florida Supreme Court grants new trial to Spanish national convicted of triple murder

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The Supreme Court of Florida has ordered a new trial for a death row inmate convicted of a 1994 notorious triple murder.

A jury sentenced Pablo Ibar to death after returning a guilty verdict in the deaths of Casimir “Butch Casey” Sucharski, a former nightclub owner along with Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers in 2000.

However, the State Supreme Court ruled that Ibar’s defense lawyer at trial, Kayo Morgan, had failed to retain a defense expert specializing in facial recognition, in an attempt to refute the prosecution’s evidence, which placed Ibar at the scene of the crime on the night of the murders.

A majority of the court’s justices issued the decision last week, which ruled that Ibar had now provided enough evidence to warrant a retrial. “Ibar has established prejudice, given the relatively weak case against Ibar with no physical evidence linking him to the crime, the critical role of his identification derived from the video, and the errors we previously identified in Ibar’s direct appeal,” the justices wrote.

“Simply put, we cannot and do not have confidence in the outcome of this trial.”

Former Assistant State Attorney Chuck Morton, who prosecuted the case from 1994 through Penalver’s acquittal, left the office in 2013, said it was unclear whether the Broward State Attorney’s Office would request the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision or prepare to bring the 22-year-old case to a fifth jury.

Ibar’s attorney, Benjamin Waxman hailed the decision by the state’s high court after the ruling.

“It’s a great day for justice in Florida today, for sure,” said Ibar’s lawyer, Waxman said before adding, “In the end, I think it had to do with their justifiable doubt that Pablo had anything to do with this.”

Sucharski, 48, who owned Casey’s Nickelodeon nightclub, was brutally beaten and shot to death along with Rogers and Anderson.

Home surveillance video captured the murders that show the suspects, who prosecutors alleged to be Ibar, with his face uncovered for part of the video committing the brutal crime.

Ibar’s co-defendant, Seth Penalver was acquitted after being granted a retrial in 2012 by the Florida Supreme Court, who ruled there was uncertainty whether he was the second killer.

However, the justices denied Ibar the opportunity for a retrial.

The defense called experts on facial recognition to testify on behalf of Penalver at his 2012 retrial, which helped lead to his acquittal.

On Thursday, the 42-year-old Penalver voiced his support for Ibar and said he’s confident Ibar was innocent.

“The evidence clearly points to two other people, and multiple other suspects that the police and the prosecutor had knowingly and willfully withheld from the jury,” Penalver said.

The family of Sharon Anderson had difficulty coping with the news.

“If you’re looking for a case where they use every single absurd defense legal tactic that this country allows people to employ to escape justice, look no further than this case,” said Deborah Bowie, who is the sister of Sharon Anderson.

She added, “God himself could come down, take the stand and say these were the people who committed this crime, and our system would find a way to vacate the conviction and order a new trial.”

Sucharski, who had owned the popular Pembroke Park nightspot, brought Rogers and Anderson, both 25 at the time, back to his home in the early morning hours of June 26, 1994, but was unaware that two men had planned to rob him.

The video shows the suspects beating Sucharski, and chasing Anderson to another room, before executing all three victims.

Two months after the murders, prosecutors in Broward County indicted Ibar and Penalver. The mother of Ibar identified her son from a still frame of the videotape before she became aware it was taken at a crime scene. She would later recant.

After a jury failed to reach a verdict in 1997, a judge ruled both defendants stand trial separately.

Penalver would end up getting convicted in 1999 after a trial that lasted six months. A jury found Ibar guilty in 2000 after a six-week trial. Both were sentenced to death.

Ibar, who is a Spanish national and son of a Spanish jai-alai player, was the subject of an international appeal by officials from Spain, who met at the time with then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003 to express their opposition to the death penalty.

A Spanish nonprofit charity would end up hiring Waxman to represent Ibar, who said he intends to stick with the case until its resolution.

“I think it’s pretty clear where this is going,” he said. “He will get the new trial he deserves,” Waxman said.

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