Three men were sentenced to more than 20 years in jail for murdering former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her ex-husband, Thomas Henry Berry, authorities said. The two were killed in January during an attempted robbery on a highway in central Venezuela.
The three men reportedly confessed to the murder and were handed the sentences on Tuesday by a court in Venezuela. Jean Carlos Colina, 19, got a 26-year sentence, while Jose Ferreira Herrera, 18 and Nelfrend Jimenez Alvarez, 21, were jailed for 24 years, a statement from the public prosecutor’s office revealed, Reuters reported. According to reports, four other men, one woman, and two teenagers still face trial for the crime but have denied the charges against them.
The 29-year-old beauty queen and her 39-year-old former husband were attacked when they were reportedly traveling from the city of Merida to the capital, Caracas. Their car broke down on a lonely stretch of highway after it hit a sharp object. Their daughter, Maya Berry Spear, was also with them at the time of the incident. The robbers reportedly opened fire at the family killing the parents and injuring the child. Maya, who was reportedly 5-years-old at the time, suffered a leg injury but was in stable condition after the attack.
According to BBC, prosecutors said that the men involved in the murder were part of a large gang that mostly robbed motorists along a highway connecting Valencia and Puerto Cabello.
Spear, who was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004, lived in the U.S. and was on vacation in Venezuela with her family at the time of her death.
The incident shocked the nation and prompted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to increase efforts to prevent violent crime and implement a nationwide anti-crime plan.