In a surprising turn of events, the trial of a 22-year-old nursing student strangled to death in Long Island, New York in 2018, is being held at a court in Central American country, Nicaragua.
Over the past three weeks, witnesses have testified to the Nicaraguan court in cooperation with the US attorney office in Binghamton using translators and video links, according to the Associated Press.
While the case involving the murder of Haley Anderson in 2018 took place in the United States, the prime accused Orlando Tercero, 23 who has dual citizenship of US and Nicaragua had fled from the country before official arrest was issued. The case remained cold as, despite extradition request by the US, the Nicaragua government rejected the plea.
However, Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell told the news agency the "Nicaraguan trial may be the only way to get justice".
According to the trial testimony, Tercero and Anderson were involved in a relationship but the former Binghamton University student wanted a more 'serious' relationship with her. Officials state Tereco strangled Anderson on his bed at his off-campus residence in Binghamton in March 2018 where her body was found.
Tercero's trial began earlier this month and a US police investigator testified via video that Tereco had left a note at his house saying he was 'sorry'. While the Nicaraguan legal team does not have a jury, the verdict will be decided by a judge.
Experts have stated if Tercero is extradited, he could be prosecuted for the murder in the US even if Nicaragua acquits him. His defence attorney, however, stated: "We will argue against the proof".
A similar case had taken place last year when Marcos Yanes Gutierrez was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Cuban government for killing a doctor in Florida. However, unlike the Haley Anderson case, investigator and Florida assistant state attorney Aleathea McRoberts travelled to Cuba and testifies in person for the proceedings.
While investigators hope that such an example follows in the New York case, officials state that the US cannot force Tercero's extradition and convict him according to US laws.
With Nicaragua listed 114 out of 126 countries in the World Justice Project's 2019 report, it is feared that the case can get manipulated by corruption, threats and bribery to the judge.
Broome County district attorney, however, has stated that the legal team is trying its best. "We have a duty and a responsibility to see this through whatever court process we can," Cornwell said.
On the issue of legal integrity of Nicaragua's court, Cornwell stated: "To this point, we've seen professionalism".