The parents of a Westbury woman who was strangled to death by a fellow Binghamton University nursing student last year said they are relieved by Orlando Tercero’s conviction Friday by a Nicaraguan judge.
“I know it doesn’t bring her back, but at least the closure is there and we can start to heal in all the ways we need to start healing, and move on without worrying” whether Tercero will be found guilty, mother Karen Anderson said Saturday.
Tercero, 23, fled to Nicaragua after he killed Haley Anderson, 22, in his Binghamton apartment on March 8, 2018. He was convicted of femicide, or the killing of a woman, and faces 25 to 30 years in prison, Steve Cornwell, district attorney in upstate Broome County, said in a video interview posted on the website of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.
“Today justice was served as much as it ever can be in cases like this,” he said.
A sentencing date has not yet been set, he said. Witnesses testified via video from Broome County to Nicaragua.
Tercero is a citizen of both the United States and Nicaragua, and Nicaragua refused to extradite him for trial in the United States, where he faces a second-degree murder charge.
Anderson, 57, of Westbury, said the tense relations between the United States and Nicaragua and the country’s reputation for corruption — Transparency International ranks it as among the most corrupt nations in the world — initially caused her to worry about a fair trial.
But Anderson said that as she saw how professionally run the trial was while watching it on a video hookup to the Broome County district attorney’s office in Binghamton, “we kept having more and more confidence in this.”
“The prosecutor down there was phenomenal and was really on top of her game,” said Gordon Anderson, 56, of Savannah, Georgia, Haley Anderson’s father and the ex-husband of Karen Anderson. “The judge was sincere in listening and wanting to do the right thing.”
Karen Anderson said the trial brought back difficult memories. The part that “was really, really hard” for her and her other daughter, Madeline, 21, who was close to Haley, was when a pathologist discussed details of how Haley Anderson was asphyxiated — details that hadn’t been divulged before the trial.
Anderson said her daughter had a friendship with Tercero that sometimes was romantic, and he was upset that Haley Anderson did not want to continue pursuing a romantic relationship. Several months before her death, Haley Anderson found her tires slashed and suspected it was Tercero but did not want to press charges for fear of hurting his chances at a nursing career, she said.
“She was very trusting and very loving,” Anderson said. “She didn’t like conflict. She just wanted to help him, and she thought he was a friend.”
Gordon Anderson said his daughter “was a kind, compassionate person who always saw the good in people” and wanted to become a nurse to help others.
“She was someone who would have made a huge difference in this world,” he said.