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2019 In Review: The Year in Crime and Court

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SOUTHERN TIER, N.Y. -

On November 1, 2019,  the family of slain Binghamton University student Haley Anderson watched a video live stream in Broome County as a Nicaraguan judge convicted Orlando Tercero, the former classmate who strangled Anderson in March 2018 at Tercero's Oak Street apartment.

Tercero was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The 23-year-old fled to Nicaragua after murdering Anderson. Nicaraguan authorities refused to extradite Tercero to face his second-degree murder charge.

Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell and his office worked with Nicaraguan prosecutors so friends and former roommates, through the use of translators, could testify by videoconferencing. Anderson's family and reporters watched through a separate monitor. 

The story made news around the world. Closer to home, a March tragedy that took the life of 16-year-old Harper Stantz and seriously injured 19-year-old Brittany Laserinko sent the Binghamton community reeling. The teens were struck by drugged driver Kevin Wilcox while walking on the sidewalk on Beethoven Street near Leroy after playing tennis.

Stantz died two days later. Classmates and the community rallied to keep her legacy alive by wearing yellow, tying yellow ribbons near Recreation Park, where they hosted the 1st annual Harper Stantz Rec Park Music Fest in July.

Here is a list of other stories in crime to make headlines in 2019:

  • January shootout on Rt. 17 in Windsor between 25-year-old Nicholas Philhower and NYSP Trooper Timothy Conklin. Philhower shot Conklin in the arm, who then fired back, striking him dead. A later investigation revealed Conklin's actions were justified.
  • February 1, 2019, Broome County Sheriff's Deputy Kristy Botsford struck in a police pursuit in the Town of Vestal. 34-year-old Daniel Butash was found to be intoxicated and pleaded guilty to vehicular assault. 
  • Aaron Powell's January 2019 double murder retrial and conviction in the 2013 deaths of estranged wife Christina Powell and Mario Masciarelli. 
  • February 2019 appeals court tossed the 2017 conviction of dance teacher Samantha Stone Werkheiser due to a technicality. 
  • Authorities re-opened a more than the four-and-a-half-year cold case in Endicott when Shawn Kostick was indicted in the 2014 death of his father Harry Kostick. 
  • Wilfredo Pica-Torres was sentenced to 70 years in prison for breaking into a Walnut Street home, killing 61-year-old Victor Banayan, and beating his ex-girlfriend Heather Stroup before lighting the house on fire. 
  • A Chenango county couple were both sent to prison for plotting to kill their disabled adopted son and setting their house on fire to cover the crime. Authorities say Ernest and Heather Franklin got the idea from a movie. 
  • The wild 7-hour run from police for Florida's John Mehne, 25, ended when Mehne was discovered in a chicken coop. You may recall, Mehne was naked and the chicken coop was at the home of Broome County's historian.