efe-epaFort Lauderdale, Florida

Spaniard Pablo Ibar, convicted in January after a third trial for his part in a 1994 triple-murder, was sentenced here Wednesday to life in prison.

Ibar, 47, spent nearly two decades on Florida's death row following a 2000 conviction and prosecutors were again seeking the death penalty in the current process, but the eight women and four men of the jury decided on life behind bars after deliberating for 90 minutes.

The Fort Lauderdale courtroom was filled with relatives of the defendant and the victims as well as press and members of the public following the high-profile case when Broward Circuit Judge Dennis Bailey read the jury's decision.

After hearing the sentence, Ibar breathed a sigh of relief and looked in the direction of his family members.

His wife, Tanya Quiñones, told EFE outside the courtroom that though she and the rest of the family had hoped for an acquittal, they were happy to learn his life would be spared, a sentiment echoed by the defendant's father, former jai alai player Candido Ibar.

The families of the victims, nightclub owner Casimir "Butch Casey" Sucharski and models Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers, betrayed no reaction as they listened to the sentence.

Ibar's attorney, Joe Nascimento, told EFE that he planned to appeal the guilty verdict handed down on Jan. 19. He said he was hopeful that his client would be incarcerated in a facility near his wife.

In the event of a new trial, prosecutors would not be allowed to ask for the death penalty.

Born in the US, Pablo Ibar is the nephew of Spanish boxing great Jose Manuel Ibar, better known as Urtain, who took his own life in 1992 at the age of 49.

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 Supreme Court of Florida overturned that verdict by a 4-3 vote in February 2016 and ordered a new trial.

Security cameras installed in Sucharski's home recorded the killings, but the images were not clear enough to positively identify the perpetrators, who covered their faces.

EFE

ims/dr