In a day of trial on Friday that left several of Haley Anderson’s family and friends in tears, Nicaraguan prosecutors presented physical evidence from her murder case and and focused on testimonies from members of the Binghamton Police Department (BPD) and a medical expert.
While the first day of the trial against former BU student Orlando Tercero, 23, centered around establishing motive for the strangulation of Anderson, a senior majoring in nursing, prosecutors laid out a timeline in the murder on Friday, saying Anderson voluntarily went to Tercero’s residence early in the morning on March 8, 2018 to “hang out with him.” Security footage shows Tercero exited the residence alone hours later.
Several witnesses, including Anderson’s mother and classmates, testified against Tercero during the first day of his trial through a livestream set up in the Broome County District Attorney’s Office, making use of an interpreter to translate their testimony into Spanish. Friends of Anderson, 22, of Westbury, New York, testified that she had an “on and off” relationship with Tercero for about a year. Josephine Artin, ‘18, Anderson’s former roommate, called Tercero “obsessive.” Nicaraguan prosecutors used their testimony to build a motive against Tercero, who they say killed Anderson out of jealousy after she ended their relationship.
Binghamton police officer Kristi Sager was the first law enforcement official to testify in Friday’s legal proceedings, which are being held held in Managua, Nicaragua, after Nicaraguan officials denied requests from the United States to extradite Tercero, who holds dual citizenship. Under currently existing extradition treaty, Nicaragua is not required to extradite Nicaraguan citizens facing charges in the United States.
Sager, who was the first officer at the crime scene, said she initially went to Tercero’s residence at 23 Oak Street on Binghamton’s West Side after Tercero’s sister called police, concerned that he might harm himself. His sister told Sager that Tercero had sent her a text apologizing “for everything.” When Sager entered Tercero’s apartment to perform a welfare check, she found Anderson’s body in the bedroom, a sheet partially covering her.
While processing the crime scene, police uncovered several key pieces of evidence, including a blanket with bloodstains in the kitchen area and a notebook with a handwritten letter in Tercero’s bedroom. BPD investigator Carl Peters testified that he reviewed “a variety of bloodstained evidence,” along with video footage from cameras attached to Tercero’s house and telephone records. He also interviewed several witnesses in the case. Peters said Tercero’s note, which was written in English and Spanish and was partially illegible, read “like a suicide note.”
“I’m sorry, this is stupid, I’m sorry,” a portion of the note read. “Mommy taught me life is a momentary thing. Nothing is ours. Mommy, I’m sorry, I don’t have any words.”
Investigators believe Tercero attempted to commit suicide twice following the murder of Anderson. When he was unsuccessful, they say he packed up his luggage and drove to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, where he boarded a flight. Images from security cameras inside the airport show Tercero with a bandage on his head.
During cross examination, Tercero’s defense attorney questioned if proper protocol had been followed to protect the crime scene. Peters testified that trained crime scene technicians were tasked with collecting evidence and placing it in sealed bags, which were labeled with the location and type of evidence. Whenever evidence was opened for analysis, investigations and technicians logged their activities and resealed the bags.
Dr. James Terzian, a pathologist with Lourdes Hospital who performed an autopsy on Anderson’s body on the morning of March 10, 2018, also testified on Friday. Terzian said he found microhemorrhages on Anderson’s face, abrasions on the inside of her lower lip and bruising around her neck with fingermarks.
“There were a lot of findings in this case,” Terzian said. “[She had] marks on her neck, including fingerprint marks, one on the right and one on the left.”
Through his examination, Terzian concluded that Anderson was manually strangled, although there was also evidence that the necklace she was wearing at the time of her death acted as a ligature and impeded her breathing.
In Nicaragua, Tercero is being charged with femicide, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years behind bars. He is facing a second-degree murder charge in the United States, which carries a possible sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
During testimony, Peters said Tercero’s note is a “confession of guilt,” echoing statements from witnesses during Tercero’s first day of trial, including a moment in testimony when Artin said she was certain Tercero was responsible for Anderson’s death and he was her “top suspect.”
The trial will resume on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. At that time, the defense is expected to submit evidence regarding Tercero’s mental state, including a psychiatric evaluation.
Sasha Hupka contributed reporting to this article.