PHILADELPHIA -- The retrial on appeal of Wilfredo Santiago, who was convicted over two decades ago of killing a Philadelphia police officer, began with jury selection Monday in the Common Pleas Court in the Criminal Justice Center.
Three years ago Santiago, 44, was sentenced to 21 to 42 years in prison in an unrelated domestic-violence case. Prior to that 2004 conviction and sentencing he remained free on bail for 11 years during appeals of his 1986 conviction in the killing of Thomas Trench.
Trench, 43, was fatally shot in the face and neck as he sat in his patrol car at 17th and Spring Garden Streets on May 28, 1985.
Santiago was convicted of first-degree murder in 1986 but was granted a new trial in 1991 after an appeals court ruled the trial judge acted improperly. He was freed on $300,000 bail in 1992.
Later that year, a Common Pleas Court judge threw out the case after ruling that prosecutors had mishandled evidence and violated Santiago's rights by withholding witnesses and evidence. In 1994, an appeals court ordered a new trial. Additional appeals are pending.
In November of 2003, Santiago's bail was revoked after a jury convicted him of aggravated assault, attempted burglary, and resisting arrest for assaulting his wife during an argument on Jan. 18, 2003. A witness testified that Santiago was on top of his wife and punching her until others pulled him away, and that he later broke a window trying to enter her home.Contact staff writer Dwight Ott at 215-854-2797 or email@example.com