Man Sentenced To 50 Years For Murder After Eluding Justice For Nearly 4 Decades Under False Identity

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A California man who evaded law enforcement for nearly four decades received a 50-year prison sentence Thursday for the 1984 murder of a Florida woman, NBC News reported.

Donald Santini, 65, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a plea deal, avoiding a first-degree murder charge, according to the outlet.

Circuit Judge Samantha Ward approved the agreement before sentencing Santini in Tampa, Florida, two weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin, per NBC. Santini, who appeared in court handcuffed, has been held without bond since his June arrest near San Diego, the outlet noted.

Before his capture, Santini lived under the fake name of Wellman Simmonds in Campo, a suburb of San Diego, where he served as president of a local water board. His arrest followed a tip to the Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force that led U.S. marshals to his location, according to NBC News. (RELATED: Police Charge Mother, Boyfriend Decades After 5-Year-Old Girl’s Body Was Found Among Trash In Wooded Area)

At the time of the 1984 murder, Santini was living under the name Charles Michael Stevens to dodge a warrant for a previous crime committed in Texas, per NBC. He used at least 13 aliases over the years, the sheriff’s office of Hillsborough County, Florida, noted, according to the outlet.

Santini pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering Cynthia “Cindy” Ruth Wood, 33, who was last seen with him on June 6, 1984, NBC News reported. Wood’s body was discovered in a water-filled ditch three days later, per the outlet.