PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A veteran Philadelphia homicide detective stashed his girlfriend out-of-state and hid her car while colleagues sought her in the slaying of her ex-husband, an indictment charged Thursday.
Detective Ronald Dove has been charged with obstruction, evidence tampering, flight and conspiracy in a case the city prosecutor compared to "a cheap novel."
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said that Dove hid girlfriend Erica Sanchez in an upstate New York motel for several weeks and even took her to Niagara Falls during a weekend visit.
"He checked with a supervisor (after the slaying), ... but failed to say he was, at the very moment, with a prime murder suspect," Williams said.
A defense lawyer said that Dove regrets the heartache he caused his peers.
"Ron did not believe he was helping a criminal but believed he was protecting a victim of domestic violence who acted in self-defense," lawyer Brian McMonagle said.
Sanchez was arrested about five weeks after Cesar Vera's body was found inside a closed nightclub on Sept. 8, 2013. Vera had been stabbed once in the heart.
The delay cost police the chance to gather her clothes, fingernails, car seat and other physical evidence, Williams said.
Officials say Dove had driven her home from the scene and spent much of that day with her before the pair fled to New York. And they say he later lied to detectives and prosecutors as they tried to investigate the case — and urged him to disclose what he knew about his so-called "friend." He ultimately told several investigators that Vera had been abusive and asked them to go easy in questioning Sanchez.
Dove was fired a few months later. He surrendered Thursday morning and was expected to be arraigned later in the day. Prosecutors said they would not oppose bail.
Sanchez's murder trial is pending.
The grand jury that heard Dove's case is also investigating at least one other death that may be connected, authorities said.
"We are trying to put together all the pieces, to solve all the homicides that may be associated (with the case)," Williams said.
That could include a slaying that took place inside a bar owned by Sanchez's father in 2010. Dove was the lead detective. He and Sanchez started dating about that time, prosecutors said.