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First-Degree Murder Charges in St. Petersburg Houseboat Deaths

Authorities allege Raynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria stabbed and killed an 75-year-old man and 74-year-old woman on their 72-foot-long houseboat last week in the Loggerhead Marina in St. Petersburg. He has been charged with first-degree murder in Pinellas County.

The bodies of John Travlos and Germana Morin were discovered by a massage therapist who arrived for a regularly scheduled appointment and an electrician who was there to do some work on the boat.

Police said Figueroa-Sanabria had worked for Travlos and Morin for at least six months doing odd jobs, painting and cleaning up around the boat. His motive for killing the couple is purported to be robbery. A police spokesman indicated they believe a large quantity of jewelry was missing from the couple's boat.

Police said they quickly identified Figueroa-Sanabria as a suspect and alerted other law enforcement to look for him. Less than 24 hours later, a North Carolina highway patrol officer pulled over a rented 2004 gold Ford Taurus matching the fugitive alert on Interstate 95 near Rocky Mount in Nash County, east of Raleigh. Figueroa-Sanabria surrendered peacefully, police said. He told officers he was headed to New York, where he has family.

Figueroa-Sanabria has been charged with first-degree murder. He also was wanted on a warrant for trafficking cocaine. It will likely be several days before Figueroa-Sanabria will be extradited to Florida.

Extradition is a legal process one state surrenders a suspected (or convicted) criminal to another state for prosecution, sentencing or incarceration.

If the fugitive does not agree to be extradited, the process is governed by federal law. In this case, the governor of Florida would have to officially demand Figueroa-Sanabria's return from North Carolina to stand trial, including a copy of the indictment or affidavit. Involving the governor's offices adds some time to the process. After the fugitive is arrested, the requesting jurisdiction (Florida) then has 30 days to appear in North Carolina to receive the fugitive.

The extradition process also generally allows the fugitive to present a defense - not to the crime charged, but that the person sought by the requesting state is not the person who has been arrested. This mistaken identity defense to extradition would not, again, be an argument that the charging authorities mistook the arrestee for the murderer but that the arresting jurisdiction mistook the arrestee for the actual fugitive.

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