The Florida Supreme Court vacated Ibar's sentence and ordered a new trial, citing several flaws in the state's arguments against him.
45-year-old Ibar, who is of Basque descent, will appear before Judge Jeffrey Levenson in a Fort Lauderdale court, in Broward County, on Friday. Levenson presided over his case in 2009, nearly 10 years after the Spaniard was sentenced to death for the triple murder of a nightclub owner and 2 models.
Ibar, who has served 22 years in prison, 15 of them on death row, has always maintained his innocence.
"Ibar is already listed as being transferred to a jail in Broward County," said Andres Krakenberger, a spokesman for the Pablo Ibar Association Against the Death Penalty.
The Florida Supreme Court underscored one of the most important arguments used by the defense: the fact that "Ibar's DNA was not found on a blue T-shirt recovered from the crime scene" and which was allegedly "[used] by the perpetrator to partially cover his face."
Benjamin Waxman, Ibar's lawyer, filed 7 motions in Broward County questioning the basis of the prosecution's case. He argued against the strength of a key piece of evidence, a "soundless, blurry, grainy" home surveillance videotape that a facial identification expert said could not prove "with certainty" that the killer was in fact the defendant.
Ibar will appear before Judge Levenson on Friday for a short hearing to decide "future steps to be taken in the procedure leading to the retrial."
Ibar, who has served 22 years in prison, 15 of them on death row, has always maintained his innocence. The defense will ask the court to release him on bail and under the supervision of his family while awaiting the new trial.
During the 1st trial, which began in 1998, a Broward County jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict and the judge threw out the case because there were no fingerprints or DNA linking Ibar to the murders. But he was convicted on August 28, 2000 after a 2nd trial. Ibar is the only Spanish citizen to have been sentenced to death in the United States.
Source: el pais, June 10, 2016
Spain's Pablo Ibar, newly off death row, appears in court ahead of retrial
Spanish former death-row inmate Pablo Ibar appeared Friday before the new judge assigned to his case, who expressed his desire to expedite a retrial after the Florida Supreme Court earlier this year vacated the defendant's 2000 murder conviction.
The brief hearing in Judge Raaj Singhal's court in Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami, lasted just over 10 minutes and was open to the media.
Singhal asked the defense attorneys how much time they would need to prepare for the retrial of their client, who is accused of killing 48-year-old nightclub owner Casimir "Butch Casey" Sucharski and two female models, Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers, both aged 25, during a June 1994 home invasion in the South Florida city of Miramar.
The judge also scheduled a new hearing for July 1.
"It's been a long journey and we've waited a long time for this moment to arrive. It's a wonderful day, and we're going to be able to demonstrate Pablo's innocence," Ibar's wife, Tania, told EFE, visibly moved by this week's developments.
Though acknowledging that "no one knows what will happen," Tania said she was hopeful that her husband would be acquitted.
Ibar's defense team is expected to request during the July 1 hearing that he be released on bail ahead of the retrial, with one of the attorneys saying they were "very optimistic" that petition would be granted.
The 45-year-old Ibar was initially tried for the triple homicide along with co-defendant Seth Penalver in 1997, but a mistrial was declared.
Penalver was convicted two years later and sentenced to death, but that conviction was subsequently annulled and he was acquitted in a new trial in 2012.
Ibar was convicted in 2000, but the Florida Supreme Court overturned that verdict by a 4-3 vote in February of this year based on, among other things, the fact that his DNA was not found on a T-shirt that was recovered from the murder scene and which one of the perpetrators had used to partially cover his face.
The Spaniard's attorneys also successfully argued that the quality of the grainy and soundless security camera footage found at Sucharski's home was inadequate and that Ibar had been poorly represented by trial lawyer Kayo Morgan, who passed away in 2014.
Morgan's most blatant error was his failure to "present a facial identification expert to explain the physical differences between Ibar and the perpetrator alleged to have been him in the video and to demonstrate that the quality of the images were so poor that they were inadequate to make a reliable identification," the majority of Florida Supreme Court justices wrote.
Ibar had been on death row at the Union Correctional Institution near the northern Florida town of Raiford, but he has been moved to a regular cell at a prison north of Miami, his attorneys told EFE on Thursday.
Source: Latino Fox News, June 10, 2016