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Year long probe delays retrial in case of ’94 triple murder caught on tape

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Pablo Ibar

Pablo Ibar

Seth Penalver

Seth Penalver

Broward prosecutors said this week that they have cleared a Florida convict of involvement in one of the county’s most notorious crimes – the 1994 video-taped murders of a Miramar club owner and two models.

For nearly a year, the quiet investigation of inmate William Ortiz had caused the postponement of the Supreme Court ordered retrial of accused killer Seth Penalver.

Ortiz, whose name did not come up in three previous trials, is serving a life sentence upstate for burglary, assault and carjacking in Broward County. He was implicated by at least two witnesses who came forward to identify Ortiz last March after one saw a Spanish television broadcast of part of the home surveillance video in the so-called Casey’s Nickelodeon murders.

But Chief Assistant Broward State Attorney Charles Morton said Miramar detectives now discount Ortiz as a suspect.

“We don’t find any credibility or truth to those allegations,” said Morton.

“He denies it, and our investigation can’t corroborate the allegations either.

“We felt obliged to look into it. We don’t want to prosecute the wrong people, of course.”

The results of the investigation were turned over to Penalver’s Fort Lauderdale attorney, Hilliard Moldoff.

“Now he has to investigate. Maybe he’ll come back and say, ‘Look, there really is some truth to this, here it is,” said Morton.

Moldoff declined comment.

But a Miami lawyer for Penalver’s co-defendant in the killings, Florida Death Row inmate Pablo Ibar, said the state attorney’s decision about Ortiz is not the last word.

“It can’t come as a surprise that the state is coming back and saying there’s nothing credible here,” said Benjamin Waxman, who wants a comparison of Ortiz’s DNA to “identifiable DNA” from strands of hair found on a blue t-shirt Ibar is said to have used to cover his face during the crime.

Waxman said previous tests have showed the hair did not come from Ibar.

“If Ortiz’s DNA is on the shirt it would be an amazing revelation,” said Waxman, who brought the accusations about Ortiz to prosecutors’ attention last March.

William Ortiz

William Ortiz

Earlier, fingerprint comparisons that Waxman hoped might put Ortiz at the scene failed to find a match. Ibar’s prints were not found at the scene either.

Casimir Sucharski, Marie Rogers and Sharon Anderson were shot dead in Sucharski’s home in the 3800 block of E. Shore Road in Miramar on the morning of June 27, 1994. The 48-year-old Sucharski, also known as Butch Casey, was the owner and manager of Casey’s Nickelodeon, a popular bar in Pembroke Park. The women, both 25, were friends and models.  

A grainy, black and white surveillance video mounted near the ceiling showed two armed men forcing their way into the house through a back sliding door shortly after 7:15 a.m. [Parts of the video are included in this MSNBC report on the murders] Note: the video is disturbing.

Over the next 22 minutes, the victims were terrorized and Sucharski was pistol-whipped. Then, the video shows all three being shot execution style in the back of the head. Unaware a video camera was running, one killer removed the blue T-shirt he’d used to cover his face. Police say that killer was Ibar.

Two months later, Penalver and Ibar were indicted for murder and armed robbery and burglary.

They were tried together over nine months in 1997-98, in what at the time was reportedly the most expensive trial ever held in Broward. The jury deadlocked, and a mistrial was declared.

The pair was tried again in 2000, but separately. Each was convicted and sentenced to death.

In 2006, the Supreme Court unanimously granted Penalver a new trial. The central reason: the video was so poor the justices couldn’t tell if Penalver was the killer who wore a hat and sunglasses. He’s being held at the Broward County Jail.

The justices rejected Ibar’s request for a new trial, noting his face was visible on the tape.

But one year ago this week, after watching the tape during a story about the case on Spanish television talk show “Maria Elvira Live,” Juan Gispert contacted attorney Waxman.

Gispert, who knew Ortiz for years, said he recognized his face, mannerisms and gait. He told Waxman he was certain Ortiz was the killer who showed his face in the tape, not Ibar.

Waxman contends in court papers that Ortiz looks more like the man in the tape than Ibar, but the killer appears as lighter skinned than Ortiz. Nevertheless, Waxman said “additional witnesses” who have viewed the tape have also identified Ortiz.

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  • what 2 pieces of garbage to have stalked these 3 people like pray in the woods.they deserve to be shot in the head execution style by suprise!

  • sharon anderson was my first cousin!!!! and she was slain likw a dog by these two monsters!!!! i hate the way these pieces of garbage are even given the opportunity to appeal!!! my cousin cannot appeal her death from the grave and be given a second chance at life!!!!!!!! I HOPE THEY BURN IN HELL!!!!!!!!!!

  • It’s just a shame that garbage like these 2 are allowed to breathe the same air that the rest of us breathe. they should have faced a firing squad many years ago

  • To Patricia: My heart and prayers goes out to you and your family. Sharon Anderson is so beautiful, and did not deserve to leave this world like that. Although her life was ripped away from her by those stupid animals, she’s now with the “King of Kings” in peace. While these fools are waiting to Die living in a cage like the animals they are. I’m with you, I hope all three of them fools burn in hell!!

  • Sharon was my sister. May she rest in peace. The day of judgment is coming, and I will be there.

  • I’m not sure which criminal(s) commited the worst crime (in Florida), these two clowns, or oba chandler!

  • I will be glad when this is finally over. It is bad enough that 3 people lives were taken so innocently, and now the families are having to endure unnecessary foolishness with yet another trial! Cut the bull! We want justice!

  • I just watched that video. Very disturbing. I truly sympathize with the family members of the victims. These guys are too good to have a needle stuck in their arm. They should be gagged and bound while someone stands over them and pumps fire into the back of their heads.

  • The Anderson relatives who posted earlier seem “blinded” by the intense emotion of the murder……….however emotion has no place in a forum where the suspected murderers may be innocent.

  • <>

    Now that is all the world needs, yet another long distance amateur pychologist who can sense who is blinded by emotion and who is not, and then feels free to pontificate about the matter.

    Someone ‘seems’ to be blinded by emotion, and criminals ‘may’ be innocent, and YOU may be inncorrect on both counts.

    No doubt the family attended a trial which no doubt you did not. The family no doubt heard all the evidence which you no doubt did not.

    Let them vent, their anger is hardly a threat to the legal system, or this forum.

  • This man Seth had rented a room from me…his room was involved in a drive by shooting, I believe related to the drugs, ordered from Butch…Seth moved out the day after the drive by…3 weeks later the assassination happened…My opinion is, Seth was scared, he cried when i showed him the shell casings….told me..”Makes me wanna get back”…then moved out that night……
    This was the worst 4:46 am i ever woke up to….11, 40 calabor bullets went threw his room…he wasn’t there at the time….scared the hell out of me and my son!!!….true story!!…i called the police at the time of the drive_by, but was never questioned at all about Butch Casey……..:(

  • Sherri, you should really contact the state attorney, Chuck Morton again. That is relavent to the case and should be discussed with them and the relavence it may or may not have to the case. Not only relavence to this case but the type of life he was living and involved with…

  • Morton is a clown. Does any of you know how many individuals Broward County has convicted and later have been freed because they were innocent? Do a little research and you are going to be surprised. Satz is another clown. Previous Sheriffs like Navarro and Jenne were criminals. Lets see Brian Cavanaugh likes to use jailhouse snitches convicted of child molestation as witnesses in his murder cases and in return requests that the sick s.o.b. sententence be reduced. Brian Weissman and Julie Voguel like to listen to defendants talking with their lawyers, and so do Morton. remeber Emilio Nunez’s case? Remember the Luis Martinez’s case in which the whole State Attorney’s Office was disqualified for misconduct? Be informed and then talk.

  • I used to barback at Butch’s nightclub/bar in the late 80’s. One of the bouncers and I agreed that the place had bad vibes and that we would find other jobs.

    Butch was set-up.

  • Ortiz got a LIFE SENTENCE for burglary, assault & carjacking ??? Without committing murder? Yet your murderers spend an average of 10-15 years in prison? Capitalists really do care more about their “stuff” than their lives !

  • Pablo Ibar was given a death sentence based only in a retouched still taken from a blurry b/w video that could match pretty much any latin looking person. Such picture would not even be considered as evidence in most countries. The hair found in the t-shirt he supposedly covered his head with was not his, the dna samples were not his, neither were the fingerprints. His lawyer admitted to have been very ill at the time of the trial due to problems with alcohol, thus not being able to provide proper defense. We all know that he would not be in death row if he were wealthy enough to get himself an expensive lawyer.

    How can a human being be sentenced to death with such poor evidence in a civilized country?. Here we have another case to add to the huge list of innocent people murdered by the US legal system.

    The US is the only non-third world country that still has the death penalty. Shame on you.

  • Coke Whores !

  • Aw come on Peter…….They have his photo. What more do they need? His entire head is in plain view.

  • Keep your head up Seth.

  • I do NOT think you can put someone to death if you can not be 100% sure he is the one who did it. I also think even if he was there he may not have been the one to pull the trigger, so if he was there but did not kill – then he deserves life in prison but not death.

  • First of all these men are innocent he was with his pablo ibar was with his wife that night he didnt do it wat if u were in his position he didnt do it stop tnonsense uadults r pathetic lowlifes may god have mercy on ur kinds that have been poisoned

  • those of you who have negatively commented here, especially TFJ shame on you 3 people are dead.Those two lovely young women unfortunately went home with their friend on the day two MURDERING LOWLIFES decided to follow Butch home to steal something that wasn’t there. (insert whatever you think that was) Butch Casey was a hard working guy that worked a long time to build his business. Marie and Sharon were nice young women with their whole lives ahead of them. The 2 people who were tried by the State of Florida know what they did!!! We now know one of them has been released after being aquitted by a jury of his “peers”(?)! As Americans we must now accept that he is free. May God have Mercy on 2 killers lives! Having said that PLEASE DO NOT make rude comments about people who are dead because someone murdered them. MOST OF ALL DO NOT INSINUATE ANY OF THEM DESERVED IT!!! (may god permit you to understand how hurtful this is to their friends and families)

  • None, please learn how to type & stop with the run-on sentences!!!

    Whoever it is, they are all wrong! Crime IS crime & they are all dually punished…Enough said!

  • Seth not guilty ok if you want it to be even he knows he is guilty. I knew seth personally he was capable of anything even Murder! He will pay for what he has done. I also knew the three victims that they killed personally.

  • so sorry fo the girls that where killed I was a jury member at that time just ane alternet but always thought the film was to grainy looks like any hipanice in south florida

  • I used to date Marie back in 85-86,until I moved back to New York.I did’nt even know she was dead until 8 years after the murders.The last time I saw her she was on crutches after being involved in a car accident in north miami.She was a beautiful person,I sometimes think back to our times at Oak Grove apts on 6th ave in Miami..

  • Just watched story on msnbc… I am absolutely horrified and outraged with the outcome..
    I want to just hug the sister and the rest of their family and cry with them for their loss…
    They are absolutely correct in not allowing the devil to steal all of the great memories those three innocent people left them…
    I will say this… Vengeance rests with GOD… They took HIS children, HE will see to it that they pay for an eternity…

  • I see CNN will feature this case… Seth Penalver got away with murder but don’t worry, something called just desserts is waiting for you.

  • I was at Casey’s that night and I saw both those young women and Butch Casey just hours before they died. I didn’t go to Casey’s much as it was expensive. I believe I bumped into one of those girls and actually made eye contact. She was kinda tall. I remember some Hispanic people being thrown out that night. I think they may have had a T-shirt contest that night. That is terrible they died like that. They should have executed those bastards. My brother knew Butch Casey.

  • Did the guys that killed Butch Casey get thrown out that night and their pride was hurt ? I liked the indoor grills at Casey’s and the meat always smelled so good.

  • One guy is free and the other may very well be getting released after a new trial..They may not even bring him to trial..No telling the outcome yet..

  • They got the right guys. They waited for Seth to get bigger in prison. Then he claimed it wasn’t him in the video. Ibar’s own mom identified him. His DNA was found on the shirt. What about the letter he wrote to Seth? Telling him he wasn’t a victim? I guess if you go to court enough times and you’re older and now look different. You can convince the new jury of your innocents. When one meets our maker. It won’t matter then.

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