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Extradition of murder suspect could take years

Orlando Tercero in police custody on March 14

Orlando Tercero in police custody on March 14 in Managua, Nicaragua. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Nicaraguan National Police

A month after the slaying of a Westbury nursing student, her suspected killer is sitting in a Nicaraguan jail and federal authorities can’t say when or even if he will be returned to the United States.

Orlando Tercero, 22, has been charged with second-degree murder in the strangulation death of Haley Anderson, also 22, who called Westbury home but was studying nursing at Binghamton University. The two met on campus.

Tercero, according to Binghamton police,“fled” to his native Nicaragua before Anderson’s body was found in his apartment March 9.

The Broome County District Attorney’s Office is seeking to have Tercero brought back to Binghamton to stand trial, but has declined to comment on the case since announcing its extradition request to the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal agency’s Office of International affairs coordinates all criminal law enforcement matters with foreign governments.

“It’s not always an easy process,” a Justice Department spokesman said, adding that even extraditions between states can be slow moving.

An authority on international extraditions agrees the process could take a couple of years if Tercero is fighting it.

“The family needs to know that this could take a long time,” said Douglas McNabb, a Washington, D.C., attorney who has handled dozens of international extraditions.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has asked the State Department to use “all diplomatic influence” with the Nicaraguan government to ensure the return of Tercero.

“This case was horrific, gut-wrenching,” Schumer said, “and the family deserves justice.”

Anderson’s family could not be reached for comment. Whether Tecero fights extradition will be a decision made by his legal team in Nicaragua, said Michael F. Bachner of Manhattan, his attorney in the United States. Tercero is a citizen of both Nicaragua and the United States.

Bachner declined to talk about any extradition plans or to provide the names of Tercero’s Nicaraguan attorneys, saying Tercero’s family did not want that information revealed.

“Murder is an extraditable offense and it’s certainly a criminal offense in Nicaragua so there’s dual criminality in place — whether he’s a citizen, has dual citizenship or an illegal alien,” McNabb said. “It doesn’t make a difference.”

The National Police of Nicaragua has declined to comment since officers arrested Tercero March 13 at a hospital where he was seeking treatment for what they described as “self-inflicted” wounds.

Nicaragua’s Ministry of Interior also declined to comment on the case.

“I cannot give you any type of information because this is very confidential for us . . . for our country,” said spokesman Jose Gonzalez.

Little is known about Tercero other than his country of origin, even by those in Binghamton who were friends with both him and Anderson.

Tercero and Anderson were friends who dated for a while. It was when Anderson decided she wanted to return to being just friends with Tercero that their relationship turned tense, friends said. He barraged her with phone calls and texts. And sometimes, he showed what the friends considered erratic behavior.

To Josephine Artin, Tercero seemed “obsessed” with Anderson after the two stopped dating.

“He used to drive down our street to see if other guys’ cars were there,” said Artin, 20, of Nyack, referring to Anderson, who was not only her friend but also her roommate.

There was a time when Artin had to literally push Tercero out the door to get him to leave the women’s house. Once outside, she said, Tercero “kept ringing the doorbell and texting.”

Those kinds of encounters had Artin and others urging Anderson to drop Tercero. But Artin said Anderson just couldn’t bring herself to turn her back on a friend.

“We tried to warn her,” Artin said. “She understood and agreed, but it’s different when you’re in that position — they had been friends for a long time.”

With David Olson

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