The defense of Pablo Ibar —the Hispanic-American sentenced to life imprisonment who he spent 16 years on death row for a triple murder perpetrated in Miami in 1994 – trusts that his appeal will prosper due to the irregularities of the last conviction and that the trial can be repeated.
This was stated this Wednesday in Madrid by Joseph Nascimento, one of the lawyers who obtained the annulment of the death sentence in 2016, for being based on “scarce and weak evidence” according to the Florida Court. Two years later, Nascimento also represented him in the new trial that, in 2019, sentenced him to life imprisonment with the “same scant and weak evidence”as he has explained, as responsible for the murders of Casimir Sucharsky, a nightclub owner, and the models Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers that occurred on June 26, 1994.
In a press conference, Nascimento has announced in Spain the appeal he has filed with the Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of Florida against the sentence of Judge Dennis Bailey. The claim is based on the serious irregularities that were committed during the development of the trial that, as he explained, should require a repeat hearing.
As he explained, on April 15 he presented the counterarguments to the position of the Prosecutor’s Office and is now waiting for the Court to rule on holding a new oral hearing. “It’s what we ask, but We do not even know when the court will rule and if it will finally accept a new trialNascimento said. If the appeal is ultimately unsuccessful, the defense still has several instances to claim, up to the Supreme Court of the United States, which »would be a very long battle for Pablo«.
A process that would have to add to the 28 years that he has already spent in different US prisons since he was arrested in 1994 as the alleged perpetrator of the triple murder, which according to what he has always defended, he did not commit.
The appeal filed by Nascimento tries to demonstrate with 13 arguments the irregularities of a trial that, from the outset, seemed “aimed at continuing to keep Pablo in prison.” “In the United States it is difficult to knock down guilty pleas —explained the lawyer— and that is what the Prosecutor’s Office seizes, arguing that if these errors were made they are innocuous« and do not affect the guilty verdict.
The resource is based on three large blocks. The first has to do with the statement of the main witness who is a neighbor of one of the victims. «We argue that the Police exerted influence on him. This man stated that he saw two men driving the car of one of the victims and that one of them had short hair and was not shaved«.
Upon learning of the murder, the witness shared the information with the Police, but it was not until twenty days later that the agents came to his house and showed him photos of six individuals, but only two of them were unshaven (Pablo Ibar and another person). . Those two were the photographs indicated by the witness. Days later, in a reconnaissance round in prison, of the six possible suspects, Ibar was the only one who had already appeared in the initial photos. The witness pointed to him, so the defense argues that the police guided his decision.
“That witness was influenced. It is not fair that they only included two unshaven men and it is not fair that Pablo was the only one in the lineup in prison that the witness had previously seen in photos,” argues Nascimento. “Also we learned in 2017 that the witness was shown crime scene photos before the photos of the suspectsbut the Prosecutor’s Office has always denied this“, he added.
A dubious DNA test
The second block of appeals is related to DNA. One of the main pieces of evidence is a t-shirt found at the crime scene. and that the Police relate to Pablo Ibar because it has the logo of an electrical company and the Spaniard’s mother worked for another company in the sector.
T-shirt has DNA from the three victims and from two unidentified men who are not Pablo Ibar. The garment has been subjected to nine studies since 1994 and it was not until the first appeal when the Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had found Ibar’s DNA.
The defense questioned the finding and denounced a deficient chain of custody, in which the test could be contaminated after being 24 years in a cardboard box along with Ibar’s belongings. “The judge did not let us argue that this crime lab has had other cases of contamination,” the lawyer denounced.
Before that analysis, on “all the occasions it had been negative that Pablo’s DNA was on the shirt; hair was found excluding Pablo. The areas of greatest wear in the armpits and neck, where it is more common to find DNA from the person who has dressed her, exclude Pablo. In other areas they found saliva that is not Pablo’s. The Prosecutor’s Office has refused to check the DNA with its databases. His argument has been that none of the areas with DNA have it of sufficient quality to compare it with anyone, “he explained.
An impartial judge
Doubts about the impartiality of the judge, and of other judicial instances involved, is the third block of irregularities denounced by the defense. At the time, they filed a petition to remove Judge Dennis Bailey from the case, since his wife at the time (he is now divorced) was a prosecutor in the case in an earlier phase. Also, the prosecutor who participated in the trial that sentenced him to death, who was already retired, returned from retirement to resume the accusation. Furthermore, he had a direct personal relationship with the judge, and had been his boss at the beginning of the proceedings.
The bias of the magistrate was made evident from the election of the members of the juryas explained by the lawyer, when “in practically all the cases in which we identified an unsuitable candidate for trial, the judge did not agree with us, but with the rejections of the Prosecutor’s Office, the judge had no problem”.
He has also denounced pressure on the jury during the trial and in the deliberation phase, which was particularly long. “Later we learned that at least there were four people who were not willing to condemn paul«, has commented.
Even one of them changed his decision a few hours after the verdict was given. The decision was communicated on Saturday morning and one of the members of the jury, the following Monday called the judge to retract and denounce the pressure that had led him to accept guilt. The judge’s decision was to withdraw the jury and continue with the guilty verdict.
Pending the decision of the Court of Appeal the
Pablo Ibar-Fair Trial Association has announced the start of a campaign
crowdfunding‘ to pay for the defense of Ibar. «We have a defense budget of $200,000. (about 165,000 euros) and we need the collaboration of citizens“, has stressed the spokesman for the association Andrés Krakenberger.
So far the association had had the help of the Spanish State and the Basque Government through the items they have enabled to help Spaniards sentenced to death in any country in the world. However, after getting the sentence annulled, the financing of the procedure is completely private.
If they finally get a repetition of the trial, they trust that the judiciary and the prosecution will not coincide with the same actors. ANDJudge Dennis Bailey, who was reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court for his degrading treatment of defense attorneys, was not re-elected in the previous elections, so he no longer continues to head the court. In addition, the prosecutor has definitively retired and it would be very strange if he returned for a new trial.
Pablo Ibar, after 28 years in prison, more than half of them on death row, maintains his integrity and “extraordinary mental health” according to his lawyer. “Knowing that many people support him gives him a lot of strength,” he added. Nascimento has also thanked the support received from Spain and has been convinced that without that citizen support «today he would not be alive because he would have been executed by the State of Florida a few years ago«.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism