FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Opening statements got underway Monday in the trial of one of two men charged in the brutal murders of three people more than a decade ago.
This will be the third trial of Seth Penalver, 39, who along with Pablo Ibar, were charged in the June 1994 murders of Casimir “Butch Casey” Sucharski, Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. At the time of his murder, Sucharski owned the popular Casey’s Nickelodeon bar in Pembroke Park.
Monday morning, the trial proceedings were delayed after it was learned a juror may have been discussing the case with other jury members. But opening statements later got underway.
Investigators said Penalver and another man stormed Sucharski’s residence in Miramar, ransacked the house, then executed Sucharski, Anderson, Marie Rogers. Anderson’s family is attending Penalver’s trial. They said 18 years hasn’t healed their pain.
“It’s abeen a long hard road. The minute you feel like we got him, he’s away and can’t do any harm, here we are again,” said Barbara Jones, the mother of Sharon Anderson.
Prosecutors are relying on home video to prove their case. Sucharski had a camera rolling in his home at the time which captured the gruesome crime.
Investigators said Penalver is one of two men seen in the video. They said he was wearing sunglasses and a hat at the time, but that evidence points to Penalver as one of the triggermen.
“Armed with this video, police no longer had to guess what happened, they could see it,” prosecutor Chuck Morton told the jury in his opening statement.
Morton implored the jury to follow the evidence.
But Penalver’s attorney said there is no positive proof that he is a killer.
“You will not hear one single person walk into this court and say that person is the person,” defense attorney Hilliard Moldoff told the jury in his opening statement.
Anderson’s niece Alexis Vance was only three-days-old when her aunt was murdered and she still bears the emotional scars.
“Growing up, I remember being five or six and asking my mom are the doors locked?” she said.
Deborah Bowie, Sharon’s sister says there can never be closure.
“There’s never closure when it comes to murder,” Bowie said.
Penalver and a co-defendant, Pablo Ibar, were charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Their first trial, one of the longest ever in Broward, lasted seven months and ended on Jan. 25, 1998, in a hung jury.
A judge then decided to try the men separately. Penalver went before a second jury the following year. This time, testimony lasted six months, and Penalver was found guilty of all charges.
Penalver won a reprieve in February 2006, when the Florida Supreme Court overturned his conviction, ruling that the videotape did not conclusively establish Penalver’s identity as one of the killers. The judges also found that prosecutors were unfairly allowed to imply that a defense witness changed her testimony because she was unduly influenced by defense attorneys.
The high court upheld Ibar’s conviction a month later, and he remains on death row.
I moved to Florida in 1990. Anyone who knows the real me knows that I was living as two different people. (Part of my bipolar disorder condition). During the day, I’d be in a suit and tie in a beautiful office managing properties I owned, doing real estate seminars, writing books, simply living life as a business man would during normal business hours. Although, when I left the office, the gloves came off. I was a high flying, high roller, hard partier, mostly involved in heavy drinking, hopping from bar to bar, nightclub to nightclub, restaurant to restaurant. Usually chasing my worst addiction of all, beautiful women.
My connection to this article is I actually knew Butch Casey as a girl I was chasing took me to his bar one night in West Hollywood and Butch actually spent some time talking and laughing with us. the girl i was with knew him very well. Not too long after, he was murdered in his house and all the defendants were caught red handed on tape. It was pretty horrifying. I really never met anyone who was murdered. But as time went on, I would come to know dozens of people that were either murdered, jailed, or died of drug or alcohol overdose. It was not uncommon for me to leave my office in the middle of the day, take off my suit, jump into my 50″ speedboat and start hitting the waterfront bars in Fort Lauderdale to end up at after hours clubs that stayed open til 5 in the morning. Casey’s Nickelodeon was an after hours club.
You can only imagine the characters that are in these places. I was rubbing shoulders and befriending the dark side, the underbelly of society and in South Florida during the 90’s, it was kind of like the movie Casino. Mobsters mingled freely with everyday people in these drinking establishments and I was right there with them. I actually also knew the famous Frank Rosenthal who owned a bar in Boca called Crocks. Frank was actually a real live Las Vegas mobster. his character was played by Robert DiNero in the movie Casino. Frank would sit at the front door of his bar every night and greet everyone that came in.
Here I was laughing and befriending a well-known mobster. There’s many more people that I knew either directly or indirectly that were pretty shady to say the least. But knowing that inside these bars and restaurants you only saw the party side of these people. Butch Casey was a laughing, happy-go-lucky dude. Although, owning a late night bar he was probably involved with a lot of unsavory characters to say the least. Who else would break into his house and murder him and his 4 friends in cold blood?
It had to have been someone he knew from his bar or someone he’d had some kind of business deal with. At least that’s my assumption. There’s an old saying, “You lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” And after all the dogs I’ve laid down with over the years, I’m still scratchin’ to this day. The way I see this ending is a bad ending. I don’t think anybody’s getting out of jail, ever, that had anything to d o with this brutal murder.
About The Author
- Robert Louis Annenberg Is a 40 year seasoned property owner, manager, investor, builder/developer and business man who is also an author of five published books to date (Amazon.com) and the chief editor of LifeQuestJournal.com. He can be reached at: Info@RobertAnnenberg.com and (201) 289-2500.
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