Sebastian Barba was married with three children, running a construction company in Ecuador when a murder he committed more than a decade ago finally caught up with him, prosecutors said.
Barba, now 34, was returning to Ecuador from a business trip to the Dominican Republic earlier this month when authorities in Panama got a "Red Notice" from Interpol that he was a fugitive and pulled him off his flight.
On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty before Nassau County Judge David Sullivan to charges of second-degree murder and leaving the scene of an accident in the 2001 hit-and-run death of an 80-year-old librarian in Westbury. He was held without bail and is due back in court Wednesday.
Barba, whose case was featured on the hit show "America's Most Wanted" in 2005, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
"Sebastian Barba's cowardice kept him hidden for more than 11 years," said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice. "But . . . law enforcement has a very long memory."
Barba's family members told him "We love you" as he was led past them in handcuffs in Nassau County Court. His lawyer, Jonathan Marks, of Manhattan, declined to comment after the brief appearance, saying he was still investigating the charges.
Prosecutor Brendan Ahern said in court that Barba hit Jean Renison on Feb. 6, 2001, as she was crossing Post Avenue at the Maple Avenue intersection in Westbury on her way to the beauty parlor. Prosecutors said Renison was hit just after 10 a.m.
Renison was thrown onto the hood of Barba's Cadillac, Ahern said.
Barba hit the brakes, causing Renison, who was still alive and moving at the time, to fall to the ground in front of the car, Ahern said. Barba then slowly drove over her chest and head while a witness screamed at him to stop, Ahern said.
Barba then fled the scene without identifying himself or stopping to help Renison, Ahern said.
Barba, who was single and a stock broker-in-training living in Hicksville at the time, fled to Ecuador, where he has dual citizenship, sources close to the case said.
He has three children in Ecuador, ages 7, 6 and 2, the source said.
America does not have an extradition treaty with Ecuador. But it does have cooperation agreements with Panama and the Dominican Republic, where he was traveling when he was nabbed, the source said.
Relatives of Renison could not be reached for comment Tuesday. At the time of her death, her brother said she was Westbury Village historian and was a Navy veteran of World War II, serving in naval intelligence.
She had been an elementary school teacher at the Columbus Avenue School in the Freeport School District from 1945 until she retired in 1976, he said.