Source AP ©

Former Ecuadorean businessman sentenced to death for quadruple slaying

A former Ecuadorean businessman was sentenced to death for killing four people in a business dispute in Florida.

Last year, a jury found Nelson Ivan Serrano, 68, guilty of four counts of first-degree murder for the Dec. 3, 1997 shooting deaths of George Gonsalves, 69; Frank Dosso, 35; Diane Patisso, 28; and George Patisso Jr., 26.

The sentences automatically will be appealed under Florida law.

"He finally got what he deserved. He killed four people. He had no right to take anybody's life," Serrano's former business partner Felice Dosso, the father of Frank Dosso, said Tuesday.

Gonsalves, Felice Dosso and Serrano were business partners at a garment conveyor factory until a dispute over finances led to Serrano's firing as company president in the summer of 1997.

Serrano denied involvement in the execution-style killings, telling investigators he was in Atlanta on business at the time. Defense lawyers said there was no physical evidence connecting Serrano to the slayings and no proof he was even in Polk County on the night of the slayings.

But prosecutors said rage over being ousted drove Serrano to mastermind an elaborate plot to kill Gonsalves and leave himself with an alibi almost 500 miles (804.6 kilometers) away. Dosso and the Patissos were killed because they got in the way, prosecutors said.

Government officials in Serrano's native Ecuador have protested against the death penalty. In February, Ecuador's Foreign Ministry requested Serrano be returned to that country because he was "illegally" taken to the United States to face charges.

Ecuador will not extradite fugitives who are facing the death penalty in other countries, but U.S. authorities in 2002 were able to use Serrano's status as a U.S. citizen to get him deported. Serrano had both U.S. and Ecuadorean passports at the time of his arrest.

Serrano's attorneys declined to comment on Tuesday's sentence.

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