Attorney for Casellas Toro vows to fight on despite guilty plea
By The Star Staff
Attorney Harry Padilla said Thursday that he will work to get Pablo Casellas Toro out of jail again after Casellas changed his plea to “guilty” of the charge of murdering his wife Carmen Paredes.
“Because Pablo Casellas’ case is not over. Now begins the work to get him out again,” Padilla said in response to questions from reporters. “The decision on how I handle cases, I don’t disclose. These are my own personal issues. This is a case, there are stages, some are Rule 6, some are Rule 23, there was a trial, the trial was annulled. When I said in 2014 that it came out late at night, that that verdict was the legal one, no one listened to me and today we are saying that since the verdict does not exist … [the judicial system] provides me with a range of tools that I’m going to reserve for myself.”
The island government’s top lawyer, meanwhile, indicated that the case is closed.
“With the guilty plea, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice guarantees the unappealable conviction of Pablo Casellas for the death of Carmen Paredes,” Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández said in a written statement. “Likewise, we forever culminated an extensive judicial process that could take more than a year and now requires a unanimous decision by a jury. In this way, we avoid the revictimization of Carmen’s relatives, who gave their consent, because they have suffered for more than a decade and deserve to have peace.”
Casellas Toro, a former insurance broker, was convicted of the crime committed on July 14, 2012, when in January 2014 a jury found him guilty in an 11-1 verdict.
However, as a lengthy battle between the prosecution and defense ensued in the Court of Appeals, that verdict was overturned when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ramos v. Louisiana that, under the federal Constitution, all verdicts must be unanimous and that this determination would apply to all cases pending appeal.
The new legal norm led to the start of a new trial on Oct. 12. After reaching a plea bargain, Casellas Toro pleaded guilty, ending a judicial process that could take years of litigation, considering the complexity and nature of the case.
Since 2020, the now-convicted man has been under house arrest with an electronic shackle, after posting a $2 million bond. After admitting to killing his wife and mother of his two daughters, Casellas Toro must be sent to prison immediately.
As a result of the agreement between the parties, Casellas Toro, 59, was sentenced to 45 years in prison on charges of second-degree murder, with severe second-degree punishment, violations of the Weapons Act and destruction of evidence.