Kenyan woman who fled country pleads guilty to abuse

Anastacia Oluoch, 59, was caught on tape beating 90-year-old man she had been hired to care for in his home.

Out on bail after being caught on tape beating the elderly man she had been hired to care for, Anastacia Oluoch boarded a plane at Dulles International Airport, police said, and fled home to Kenya via Italy and Ethiopia.

More than five years later and after an international manhunt, Oluoch was again brought before a Baltimore judge Tuesday. She pleaded guilty to abusing 90-year-old John Taylor and was sentenced to six years in prison. She was brought to trial through the first ever international extradition by the Baltimore Police Department.

“I’m very happy, I’m at peace with it all,” Jaki Taylor, John Taylor’s daughter, said after the hearing. “I pray that the six years feel like they’re 50. … It was a matter of time… but it worked out.”

Federal authorities often seek the extradition of drug kingpins, terror suspects and other high profile targets, but the extradition of people facing state charges is rare. And investigators faced an additional hurdle in Oluoch’s case because she is a Kenyan citizen, and countries can be especially reluctant to give up their own people to other governments.

But a Baltimore police detective took up the case while working on an FBI task force and pursued it for years. Kenyan authorities agreed last August to send Oluoch back to Baltimore for trial.

“The tape was just heinous and I couldn’t imagine being in those circumstances with my own family,” the detective, Julie Pitocchelli, said after the plea hearing Tuesday. “I wanted to help Jaki as much as I could.”

Taylor has since died — unrelated to the beating. He was left unable to defend himself or communicate the abuse because he had suffered a stroke, Assistant’s State’s Attorney Michele Lambert said in court. Jaki Taylor said she was especially cautious with her father after her mother had died just a few years before, so she installed a camera to keep an eye on him.

Jaki Taylor reviewed the tapes when she returned home on May 19, 2007 and watched as Oluoch punched her half-naked father in the stomach and beat his hands as he clutched a rail in his bed.

Oluoch was arrested May 20, 2007 and released on $5,000 bail. She left the country soon after her arraignment, but Pitocchelli gave chase. That September, she filed in U.S. District Court for a warrant to bring the federal government into the case.

The detective began interviewing relatives of Oluoch who were still in the country. They freely gave up information about where Oluoch might be, Pitocchelli said at a news conference last year, believing the Baltimore police would never catch her.

With Oluoch eventually traced to Nairobi, Kenya and arrested in the Taylor case in 2011, a battle began in Kenyan court to get permission to bring her to the United States. At one point, Pitocchelli said, she was on her way there — she made it as far as London — when a court ruled that Oluoch could not be released. Pitocchelli returned home.

But thinking she had won, Oluoch abandoned her case and lost court protection, Pitocchelli said. FBI agents in Kenya apprehended her last August and put her on an airliner back to Dulles, the airport she had fled from five years earlier.

Andrew I. Alperstein, a former Baltimore County prosecutor who has studied extradition law, said getting Oluoch into a Maryland courtroom showed particular doggedness on the part of the authorities.

“Very infrequently do state charges in Maryland in my experience lead to international extraditions,” he said, adding that getting Oluoch from her home country is “even more impressive.”

But pursuing the case halfway around the globe could come with a price tag, Alperstein added. He said prosecutors generally have to repay federal authorities for their help. The Baltimore state’s attorney’s office did not return calls for comment on the cost of the investigation.

On Tuesday, corrections officers led Oluoch into court handcuffed and wearing a pink jail outfit. She turned to smile at her husband who was sitting in the fourth row.

John J. Hammann, Oluoch’s attorney, began to ask Judge Barry G. Williams to consider that Oluoch had already been held in a Kenyan jail for a year. The judge cut him off, noting that she had chosen to go to Kenya.

Hammann could not be reached for comment and Oluoch did not speak at the hearing, except to answer standard questions acknowledging that she understood her rights.

One of those questions involved a reminder that she could be deported after serving her sentence. Pitocchelli said that is certainly the plan.

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