Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Associated Press
NASHUA, N.H. – A New Hampshire man who fled a day before being convicted in 1991 of killing his 2-year-old stepson has been tried and convicted in Greece, where he is serving an 18-year sentence for the boy's death, authorities said Friday.
Federal and state officials held a news conference to provide an update on 45-year-old Steven Kamberidis' whereabouts since he disappeared on May 14, 1991, the day before he was convicted in Nashua of second-degree murder in the 1989 beating death of James Chartier.
Kamberidis, who was free on $50,000 bond when he disappeared, was sentenced in absentia to 30 years to life.
New Hampshire law enforcement officials said they've known for at least a decade that Kamberidis was in Greece, his native country, and FBI officials said the agency had been making a concerted effort to bring him to justice since 2006.
"It was a fugitive case, not a cold case, and not a cold fugitive case either," FBI supervisory special agent Kieran Ramsey said before the news conference. "We've known he was in Greece for quite some time, for years."
Police in Greece said Kamberidis was arrested Feb. 5 in a village near Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced again in late April.
At the news conference, Ramsey said the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of a Greek citizen for a U.S. crime was "unprecedented" for both countries.
"At times people may have thought justice was delayed," said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young, who heads the criminal bureau. "The efforts of the law enforcement community have certainly shown that justice was not denied to James and his family."
Young said officials are continuing their diplomatic efforts to have Kamberidis returned to the United States, where he would serve his original 30-year sentence and face a federal charge of fleeing to avoid prosecution.
James' mother, Tracey Nicholson, attended the news conference with other family members, but declined to comment. Her brother, Tim Grover, said "words cannot measure our thanks" to the FBI and other law enforcement officials for their "tireless" efforts.
Ramsey said Kamberidis had a vast network of relatives in Greece and had worked for relatives in various flooring businesses. He said Kamberidis had remarried, but he did not know if he has children.
Autopsy results show James died of a fractured skull. During Kamberidis' New Hampshire trial, a medical examiner testified the child's injuries were comparable to falling out of a three-story window and were caused by multiple, forceful blows. After his arrest, Kamberidis was held without bond. But once bond was set, his father posted it.
Ramsey said he could not address the disparity in the sentences given by the New Hampshire court and the court in Athens.
"That was the prerogative of the Greek criminal justice system," Ramsey said. "We are still very pleased with even an 18-year sentence in a Greek prison than no time anywhere."
Ramsey would not address whether Greece refused to extradite Kamberidis. He said Kamberidis' case was heard by a panel of judges in Athens. Court documents from New Hampshire, including the autopsy report and transcripts of trial testimony, were translated into Greek and shipped to Athens, he said.
Ramsey and Nashua Police Chief John Seusing both said they do not know whether Kamberidis was required to forfeit his passport as a condition of bond.
Seusing said some detectives in his department worked on the case for years, including some well into retirement.