FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Prosecutors have called their first witness 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, was charged in the June 1994 murders of Casimir “Butch Casey” Sucharski, Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers. At the time of his murder, Sucharski owned the popular Casey’s Nickelodeon bar in Pembroke Park.
Investigators said Penalver and Ibar stormed Sucharski’s residence in Miramar, ransacked the house, then executed Sucharski, Anderson, Marie Rogers.
On the stand Fernando Navarro answered questions about the night of the murders; at the time he was a deputy with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. According to prosecutors, after the murders Penalver and Ibar stole Sucharski’s car, drove it to Palm Beach County and torched it.
Prosecutors again plan to rely on a 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. On Tuesday jurors got to see the tape for themselves. Anderson’s family who is attending the trial, also watch yet again the chilling moments leading up to the execution style shootings.
“You are bringing back my daughter all over again to the point that you try to remove yourself because if you don’t you will wind up in the loony toon bin,” said Anderson’s mother Barbara Jones.
At one point Anderson’s sister had to leave the courtroom, the tape too unbearable to watch.
“That was my sister, she had a life, a niece she never met,” said Deborah Bowie.
The court also heard from Mark Suchomel, the original crime scene investigator. He said while combing Sucharski’s home for evidence, he unexpectedly found a video recorder.
“Sticking out of that recorder was a VHS tape,”Suchomel told the jury. “When traced it led to the camera and it was a surveillance camera.”
Penalver and a co-defendant, Pablo Ibar, were charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Their first trial 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 he was found guilty of all charges.
In February 2006, however, Penalver won a reprieve when the Florida Supreme Court overturned his conviction, ruling that the videotape did not conclusively establish his identity as one of the killers. The high court upheld Ibar’s conviction a month later; he remains on death row.