Insurance broker gets retrial after 109-year sentence

A Puerto Rico appeals court has ruled that a former insurance broker convicted of killing his wife will be getting a retrial.

Pablo Casellas, son of former US District Court Judge Salvador Casellas, was charged in 2014 with shooting his wife, Carmen Paredes. The alleged murder took place at their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico in June 2012. The couple had two children.

The retrial was decided on by Puerto Rico’s appeals court based on a US Supreme Court decision last April that criminal trials require unanimous verdicts. According to the appeals court, going against the US Supreme Court’s decision would mean that “the people of Puerto Rico would enjoy fewer rights than their fellow American citizens residing in any state of the Union.”

Due to the new ruling, a court has to hold a bond hearing for Casellas before Friday, The Associated Press reported.

In 2014, a jury found Casellas guilty on charges that included first-degree murder and destroying evidence in an 11-1 verdict. He was sentenced to serve 109 years in prison.

Casellas had blamed the killing on an unidentified intruder, but the authorities accused him of falsely claiming he was kidnapped and reporting that the murder weapon was stolen.

The former insurance broker’s attorneys attempted to have the ruling revoked in 2015, arguing that the requirement of unanimous verdicts in US federal cases also applied in Puerto Rico. An appeals court granted Casellas a new trial, but the decision was overturned by Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court. The Puerto Rico Supreme Court maintained that a local law allowed guilty verdicts by a majority of nine out of 12 jurors.