Killing took place in New York, but Nicaragua hosts trial

Orlando Tercero visits with his mother, Martha Moreno, during a court recess on Oct. 11 in Managua, Nicaragua. Moreno is accused of killing 22-year-old U.S. nursing student Haley Anderson in 2018. The court proceeding is taking place in Managua, Nicaragua, with a Nicaraguan prosecutor and a Nicaraguan judge applying that country’s law. Witnesses have been testifying from Binghamton via streaming video.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Witnesses have gathered in a small city in upstate New York over the past three weeks to testify in the trial of a man accused of strangling a young nursing student. But there is no jury, no American judge and the man accused is seated next to his defense attorney 2,200 miles away — in Nicaragua.

In an exceedingly rare legal proceeding, the trial of former Binghamton University student Orlando Tercero in the 2018 killing of 22-year-old Haley Anderson is being held at a court in Managua, Nicaragua, with a Nicaraguan prosecutor and a Nicaraguan judge applying Nicaraguan law.

American prosecutors have no authority over the trial, but the Broome County District Attorney’s office in New York is deeply involved as a facilitator for witness testimony. The witnesses have testified, with the help of a translator, via a video link from a room in the district attorney’s office in downtown Binghamton.

Authorities say Tercero, now 23, strangled Anderson at his off-campus residence in Binghamton in March 2018. Anderson, who was from Westbury on Long Island, was found dead in Tercero’s bed. The two college students had a romantic relationship but Tercero wanted a more serious relationship, according to trial testimony.

Tercero killed Anderson and fled to Nicaragua, which rejected an extradition request from the U.S., according to authorities. Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell said the Nicaraguan trial may be the only way to get justice. Tercero is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Nicaragua.

“We have a duty and a responsibility to see this through whatever court process we can,” Cornwell said.