World

Three men who confessed to killing former Miss Venezuela sentenced to long prison terms

Miss Venezuela 2005, Monica Spear, during the Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand.

Miss Venezuela 2005, Monica Spear, during the Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand.  (AP2005)

Three men who confessed to killing a former Miss Venezuela and her husband in a crime that shocked a nation increasingly accustomed to violence have each been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

The sentences were handed down Tuesday by a court in Valencia, near where Monica Spear and husband Thomas Henry Berry were slain in January when they resisted a robbery attempt while they were stranded on a lonely stretch of highway. Five more defendants remain on trial, Venezuela's Supreme Court said.

Monica Spear, 29, and Henry Thomas Berry, 39, were slain on a roadside near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela's main port about 125 miles west of Caracas. After their car broke down, the couple resisted a robbery and were shot in front of their 5-year-old daughter.

Oil-rich Venezuela has one of the world's highest homicide rates, and President Nicolás Maduro has said combating violent crime is one of his top priorities.

Spear, born in 1984 in Maracaibo, was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004 and the next year participated in the Miss Universe pageant in Thailand, where she came in fourth. She acted in numerous soap operas for the U.S.-based Telemundo network, the most recent being, "Pasión Prohibida."

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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