A Long Island man – who led law enforcement on an international manhunt for more than a decade – admitted Tuesday he ran over an 80-year-old woman and left her for dead in the road before escaping to Ecuador to allegedly evade prosecution, the Nassau County DA’s office said March 18.
Sebastian Barba, 36, stood silent as a judge told him he will spend the next 12 years in state prison after pleading guilty to first-degree assault and a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting.
“I drove my car and I hit a lady and I drove over her and I ran away,” Barba told Nassau County Court Judge Angelo Delligatti on Tuesday, as he allocuted to his crime.
Barba – who was once featured on America’s Most Wanted – was captured on a plane in Panama in November 2012 after being on the run from police for close to 12 years. He had been wanted by Nassau County investigators for allegedly fleeing a February 2001 crash that killed 80-year-old Jean Renison.
Renison – the Westbury Village Historian – was headed to the hairdresser at the time and was crossing Post Avenue near Maple Avenue when Barba allegedly hit her with his Cadillac. Prosecutors said the impact threw Renison onto the hood of the car before she was thrown back to the pavement when Barba jammed on the brakes.
Authorities said he didn’t stop and offer aid, but instead, “slowly drove over the victim’s chest with the front tires and her head with the back tires,” as witnesses reportedly screamed for him to stop his car.
Prosecutors said he never stopped and later fled to Ecuador, where he holds dual citizenship. He was indicted on murder charge, but remained on the run for more than a decade, but was captured in Panama on a connecting flight from the Dominican Republic.
In court Tuesday, he begged for mercy from Renison’s family, saying he often prayed for them at church in Ecuador and needs them to forgive him so he can live in peace.
“I’m sorry I put you through this tragedy,” he said, while turning to them in the courtroom. “Please forgive me.”
However, Renison’s niece, Maura Beede, told the judge she wanted to make sure Barba knew who he “brutally murdered,” saying he treated her aunt “worse than an animal.”
“Mr. Barba is going to finally serve his time in prison,” she said. “Eleven years went by. Did he turn himself in? No. He was caught and he was brought to justice.”
As Barba was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, his wife Denisse blew him a kiss. She, along with numerous other family members, declined to comment afterwards. Barba also declined comment as he was escorted on a bus back to the county jail.
His defense lawyer, John Kase, said he intends to file an appeal in the coming days, claiming Barba’s constitutionally-protected right to a speedy trial had been violated.