LAKE CHARLES, La. — Three Colombians were convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday for the machine-gun slaying of informant Adler (Barry) Seal, whose undercover work had led to an indictment against the alleged leader of a cocaine cartel.
Defendants Luis Carlos Quintero-Cruz, 34; Miguel Velez, 37, and Bernardo Vasquez, 33, showed little emotion when the verdict was read.
State District Judge Charlie Quienalty ordered the punishment phase of the trial to begin immediately. The same jury that decided the guilt of the three will hear additional evidence and determine if they will be sentenced to death or to life in prison without parole.
Richard Sharpstein, who represented Velez, said the conviction was based on "prejudicial, extraneous and irrelevant information."
"Instead of trying to present evidence, the prosecution tried to scare the jury," said Robert Moore, the attorney for Quintero-Cruz. "They turned this trial into the history of drugs in America."
Prosecutor Prem Burns said the jury members used a lot of common sense. "It took a lot of gumption on their part," she said.