A man who fled to Ireland five years ago to escape prosecution for a traffic accident that killed three college students has been returned to the United States.
U.S. marshals delivered Frederick Russell to Washington on Thursday night, capping his yearlong legal fight to avoid extradition.
Russell, 27, fled the country in October 2001, three days before he was to stand trial on three counts of vehicular homicide and four counts of vehicular assault.
Handcuffed during commercial flights from Dublin, Russell caused no problems, U.S. Marshal Mike Kline told reporters.
“We talked a lot about Ireland,” Kline said. “He’s scared. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen. He was very sorry for everything.”
Reporters did not see Russell Thursday night. He was scheduled for a court appearance Monday.
19 previous warrants refused
His extradition cut against the legal grain in Ireland, which had refused 19 previous U.S. extradition warrants concerning other American fugitives.
As part of the extradition negotiations, federal unlawful flight charges against Russell were dismissed. He will be tried only on the state vehicular homicide and assault charges.
Police say Russell was returning from a bar in Idaho in June 2001 when his sport utility vehicle struck three cars while trying to pass another car. Three students from Washington State University were killed and four others were injured.
While fighting extradition, Russell testified that he had entered Canada, flown to London and traveled throughout western Europe before settling in Ireland, where he lived under the alias “David Carroll” with his Irish girlfriend and worked as a security guard at a lingerie shop.
Tip led to arrest
Irish police received a tip in January 2005 after someone identified Russell based on details from the Marshals Service’s “Most Wanted” Web site. They didn’t arrest him until the following October — on the fourth anniversary of his disappearance — after spending months haggling with U.S. justice officials over the details of extradition documents.
In May, Ireland’s second-highest court rejected Russell’s plea to remain in Ireland, which included claims he would face an unfair trial in Washington state and could suffer physical abuse in a U.S. prison if convicted. An appeal to the country’s Supreme Court failed in October.
A last-minute attempt to file for political asylum was rejected in part because U.S. citizens are not eligible for asylum in Ireland, which has a specific list of asylum-eligible nationalities.