Jury selection for new trial against Pablo Casellas delayed until October 12

The second trial against Pablo Casellas Toro for the murder of his wife, Carmen Paredes Cintronwas postponed three weeks and will now begin on October 12 with jury selection, the judge reported this Wednesday Nerisvel Duran Guzmanof the Bayamon Court, during a hearing on the status of the proceedings.

During the hearing, the judge delivered the lists of the jury candidates, who must evaluate the evidence that the Public Ministry and Casellas Toro’s defense present during the new judicial process. The start of the trial, which had been scheduled for September 21, was delayed due to professional commitments on both sides.

The prosecution and defense also presented several motions – the content of which was not revealed – which will be answered by the judge in writing. The next status conference – expected to be the last – was scheduled for September 29, at 9:30 a.m.

Although Judge Duran Guzman recessed work in the afternoon, both parties later met behind closed doors behind closed doors.

Casellas Toro faces charges of murder, violations of the Weapons Law, destruction of evidence and issuing false statements about a crime, all in relation to the feminicide of Paredes Cintron, which occurred on July 14, 2012.

This Wednesday’s hearing was held in room 704 of the Bayamon Court, just steps from where, more than nine years ago, the former insurance broker was found guilty by a jury.

The panel composed of six women and six men then evaluated the evidence and statements of 31 witnesses from the Public Ministry and one from the defense. After 10 hours of deliberation, on the night of January 22, 2014, the jury returned the guilty verdict – by a majority of 11 to 1 – against the son of the late federal judge Salvador Casellas.

At the same time, Casellas Toro was facing a federal trial on three charges related to lying to federal agents about an alleged armed carjacking (“carjacking”) of which he alleged he was a victim, and was also found guilty.

Paredes Cintron, 46, was murdered on the morning of July 14, 2012. The woman’s body was found in the pool area of ​​a residence in the Tierra Alta III urbanization, in Guaynabo, and she had several gunshot wounds. , including a shot to the head and another to the chest.

According to the testimony, during that trial, of Carlos del Vallefirearms examiner at the Institute of Forensic Sciences, projectiles recovered from Paredes Cintron’s body were fired with an FHN Five Seven weapon, owned by Casellas Toro, which the accused had reported stolen in a “carjacking” a month earlier. of crime.

Extensive appeal process

Casellas Toro was serving a 109-year prison sentence when his release and a new trial were ordered, because the jury’s verdict was not unanimous. However, the process to reach that determination took many years and various judicial processes.

The defense lawyer Harry Padilla He immediately appealed the sentence, and filed a motion to annul the verdict and request that a new trial be held, before the opinion of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico in the case People v. Sanchez Valle –issued shortly before–, which established that the archipelago is a territory without sovereignty, so the US constitutional clause against double jeopardy applied.

Therefore, his lawyers argued, then, that the United States Constitution applies in Puerto Rico, including the principle that a person can only be found guilty if the verdict is unanimous.

The Court of Appeals, by a split vote of 2-1, revoked, on November 24, 2015, the sentence and ordered a new trial. However, on April 27, 2017, the local Supreme Court revoked that determination.

Following the determination of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Ramos vs. Louisiana, it was established that the verdict against a person accused of a serious crime must be unanimous, which applies both at the state and federal level. This opened the door to annul the conviction and request a new trial by Casellas Toro’s defense. On May 27, 2020, the local appellate forum ordered a new trial.

The decision of the federal Supreme Court applied to Casellas Toro because his case was in the appeal process and was not final and firm. The man was released after paying $2 million bail.

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