December 11, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. — A 65-year-old California fugitive who eluded authorities for practically 4 a long time earlier than his arrest in June has been sentenced to 50 years in jail for killing a Florida lady.

Donald Santini pleaded responsible to second-degree homicide in a cope with prosecutors to keep away from a first-degree homicide cost. Circuit Decide Samantha Ward accepted the deal earlier than issuing the sentence in Tampa on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Occasions reported. The case had been set to go to trial in two weeks.

“Good luck,” the decide advised Santini, who has been in jail with out bond since his arrest in June at his residence close to San Diego.

”Thanks, Your Honor,” Santini, whose fingers had been cuffed in entrance of him, replied.

Earlier than his arrest, Santini had lived in California beneath the identify of Wellman Simmonds. He was president of an area water board in Campo, a tiny suburb of San Diego, and he often appeared at public board conferences.

The life he had inbuilt California got here to an finish because of a tip from the Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Job Power. That led U.S. marshals to Campo, the place Santini was taken into custody.

In 1984, Santini was often called Charles Michael Stevens, which was an alias he used to outrun a warrant for against the law dedicated in Texas. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s officers stated he used at the very least 13 aliases over time.

Prosecutors, who had been ready to current new details in regards to the case to jurors, stated Santini was the final individual to be seen with Cynthia “Cindy” Ruth Wooden, 33, on June 6, 1984, and her physique was present in a water-filled ditch three days later.

Assistant State Lawyer Scott Harmon stated throughout Thursday’s listening to that Wooden advised buddies and associates she was occurring a date on June 5, 1984, and neighbors later advised investigators they noticed a van parked in her driveway.