As Haley Anderson’s parents and friends looked on, former Binghamton University student Orlando Tercero was sentenced to 30 years in Nicaraguan prison on Friday.
Anderson, 22, a senior nursing student at BU from Westbury, New York, was discovered dead in Tercero’s Oak Street residence on Binghamton’s West Side by police conducting a welfare check on March 9, 2018.
Tercero’s trial took place in Managua, Nicaragua after Nicaraguan officials denied requests from the United States to extradite him. Because Tercero, 23, has dual-citizenship in the United States and Nicaragua, Nicaraguan officials are not required to send him back to the United States, where he faces a second-degree murder charge.
In Nicaragua, Tercero was found guilty of femicide on Nov. 1 under Nicaragua’s Law 779, which strengthens protections Nicaraguan law can provide women in gender-specific crimes. The law cites protections for women against gender-based cruelty ranging from economic to psychological violence. Tercero faced 20 to 30 years behind bars for the crime, and the judge chose to impose the maximum sentence during Friday’s proceedings.
Nicaraguan prosecutors were able to charge Tercero with femicide since he had a former romantic relationship with Anderson. During Tercero’s trial, Anderson’s friends described Tercero as having “aggressive tendencies” and becoming “obsessive” following their breakup.
Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell said while he would have preferred to have the trial in the U.S., “justice has been served” and the District Attorney’s office is thankful for the Nicaraguan court system.
“It’s the best justice that we can get,” Cornwell said. “It is a victory for Haley, her friends and her family. It’s quite honestly a victory for women in Central America and in this country as well. We’re very satisfied with the results.”
According to Cornwell, the unique nature of the case ensured Nicaraguan prosecutors were able to charge Tercero with a crime that is not on the books in the United States. Cornwell said Tercero’s case should serve as proof that Broome County needs to focus more on taking preventative measures to protect women from violence.
“It doesn’t get any more sick and depraved,” Cornwell said. “Clearly, he’s using not only his physical abilities but preying on somebody who’s helpless and completely overpowered them with no chance at all. He did that, and [with] this specific law they have recognized that is a specific type of violence, an evil, that he needed to be held accountable for. Just as he had treated her in the relationship that they had, he was a completely selfish and evil person.”
When Tercero’s sentence was announced, Gordon Anderson, the victim’s father, said he felt relieved. He said he was initially concerned about having the trial in Nicaragua, but everyone did a “remarkable job.”
“As the trial went on and working with Steve [Cornwell] and his crew, you got almost a sense of comfort,” he said. “It was very family-feeling. It was very professional, and it just eased any doubt you had. Watching the prosecutor and the judge, the way they expressed their emotions and words just put you at ease.”
Tercero said nothing during the sentencing. As in the United States, he will have a chance to appeal his conviction and sentence under Nicaraguan law, although it is unclear how long that process could take in the Nicaraguan legal system. While in prison, he will receive counseling, according to Cornwell. He also will receive credit for the more than 19 months he has spent waiting for trial at the Directorate of Judicial Assistance, a Nicaraguan prison more commonly referred to as “El Chipote.”
Karen Anderson, the victim’s mother, said she hopes to honor her daughter by educating college students on the warning signs of abuse and preventative measures they can take to protect themselves.
“If anything could come from Haley’s death, it is the awareness of the consequence that can be had,” she said. “I know that her life is gone and it doesn’t make her come back, but if there’s anything that can come from it, any good, I just hope that everyone gets the word out there and gets to the school systems and talks about stalking.”