Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

County awaiting Colorado governor’s signature to extradite Syperda

Jan 16, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


The governor of Colorado has received the warrant for the transfer of Michael Syperda from Carfield County, Colo., to Henry County.

Syperda was arrested on Nov. 30, 2017, in Rifle, Colo., and taken into custody on charges of first degree murder of his estranged wife Elizabeth Syperda. Elizabeth disappeared from Mt. Pleasant in 2000 and has not been seen since.

Because Syperda was arrested in Colorado, Henry County needed an extradition order to move him to Iowa, where the alleged crime was committed. Henry County Attorney Darin Stater said that the county has jurisdiction over the crime, but not over the defendant until he is physically present in the state where the crime was committed.

“We’re close to getting [Syperda] back,” Stater said. “I don’t have any idea where he is in the system in Colorado. We don’t have any control over that.”

Stater said the county is waiting for the governor of Colorado to sign the extradition order and a judge will then order Syperda’s transport to Henry County as set forth in the warrant. He hopes Syperda is moved to Henry County by the end of the month.

“There’s nothing holding it up,” Stater said, “it’s literally just getting it across the governors’ desk, and that’s really the unknown.”

Stater said he began the extradition process by sending an extradition request to the governor of Iowa on Dec. 19, 20 days after Syperda was arrested. The extradition checklist includes a requisition, affidavit and trial information, which spells out why they believe there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

“We prepare trial information like we would normally,” Stater said. “In this case, it was really long because we had 26 or 27 witnesses to attach to it.”

An extradition order also includes fingerprint cards, photographs, a physical description of the defendant and an order issuing the arrest warrant. Stater said it’s not complicated and the list is fairly short, but extradition is a very time consuming and labor-intensive process.

In Syperda’s case, the county received the Iowa governor’s warrant within three weeks, which was fairly quick. Stater said the extradition administrator in the governor’s office responds quickly to extradition requests because a person can’t be held in jail longer than 30 days before they are entitled to a hearing. A judge can extend the extradition at the 30-day mark, but Stater said the longest they will normally hold someone, especially for a minor offense, is 60 days.

“We can’t just hold someone for three months,” he said.

In order to extradite someone, the punishment for the alleged crime has to be for over a year. In Syperda’s case, if convicted the punishment would be life imprisonment because he is facing a felony charge of first-degree murder.

A person can’t be extradited on a simple misdemeanor, Stater said. For example, if someone shop lifted in Iowa and were arrested in Illinois, they can’t be extradited from Illinois to Iowa, as the punishment would not be more than one year in jail. Stater said he thinks that’s just to save judicial resources.

A defendant can waive extradition if they so choose. In this case, if Syperda had waived extradition, Colorado would prepare paperwork stating he appeared in court and authorities from Henry County would come and pick him up.

“You can waive if you think, ‘Okay, I’m just going to get it over with,’ or for whatever reason,” Stater said. “[Syperda] chose not to waive extradition, which is perfectly fine and in his right to do so.”

Once Syperda is moved to custody in Henry County, he will be appointed an attorney, his rights will be read, bond will be set and the clock will start running on the trial.

Stater said he was “not officially commenting” on why Syperda is being charged with murder of his estranged wife after 17 years.

“That’s a question we get from everybody,” Stater said. “Why now? Everyone wants to know if there was some new thing.”

Stater did say his office will be making an official statement soon.

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