PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A jilted husband who fled overseas after allegedly killing his wife's girlfriend in a restaurant in 1992 appeared gaunt and haggard when he appeared Wednesday in a Philadelphia courtroom.
Santiago Pedroso, a self-described "spiritualist" who once had a store that sold religious items, told police he had remarried in the Philippines, where he spent most of the past two decades.
Pedroso, 71, was arrested last month after he went to the U. S. Embassy to get a passport. The FBI was alerted, and saw an immediate likeness between the fugitive they long sought and the white-haired, stooping man in Manila.
"When enough decades go by, I would imagine that you start to feel more secure in your surroundings, and more bold," Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax said, musing on why Pedroso may have sought a passport. "Justice delayed ... can be justice denied, but is justice still."
On Father's Day in 1992, Pedroso and his teenage daughter went to a neighborhood restaurant, where they ran into his wife and her lover, 41-year-old Delores Alvarez. Alvarez had been a well-regarded employee of Hughes Aircraft Corp. in California, and had an 18-year-old son.
"She was a friend to me and my wife, Maria Jesus Gomez, and she took my wife away from me," Pedroso told police in Philadelphia last month, according to the statement read in court.
The couple's daughter "came up behind me and said, 'Don't shoot my mom,'" Pedroso told police, according to the statement. "I told Maria, 'I'm not going to shoot you because I don't want to leave our daughter out in the street.'"
He shot Alvarez multiple times just after she ordered dinner, prosecutors said.
Pedroso told police that Alvarez had a gun, but Sax said there's no evidence of that. He called the slaying "an execution."
Pedroso said he stopped home after the shooting to get his personal papers, then took a flight out of New York to the Dominican Republic.
"Why am I going to stick around? I know I'm going to spend the rest of my life in prison," he told police, according to the statement.
He spent a few months there and another few months in Venezuela before settling in the Philippines, where he married again and had more children.
Neither his ex-wife nor their daughter was in court, but both are still alive and should be available to testify, Sax said. They no longer live in Philadelphia.
Defense lawyer Richard Giuliani said that Pedroso had been in custody for more than day, traveling from the Philippines, when he gave his statement in Philadelphia. He said his client will plead not guilty at his formal arraignment, set for Oct. 30.
"It was a long time ago," Giuliani said. "I have to see what the DA has and if what he (Pedroso) says matches what happened back then."