- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A man accused of killing five people at a Florida airport faces more legal tangles back home in Alaska.

A judge ordered an arrest warrant to be issued Wednesday for Esteban Santiago for failing to appear for a sentencing hearing in Anchorage on a domestic violence charge.

The judge made the move after court workers could not reach Santiago on the phone in Florida, where he is in federal custody.

The ruling essentially puts the Alaska case in limbo after the deadly Jan. 6 shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Santiago, 27, of Anchorage is accused of retrieving his gun from checked baggage after landing then killing five people and wounding six others.

Last year, Santiago was charged with assault and criminal mischief in Anchorage after police said he broke through a bathroom door and struck his girlfriend in the head at their home. He pleaded no contest and agreed to take part in a deferred sentence program that included completing a 12-week anger management course.

At Wednesday’s brief hearing, Judge Stephanie Rhoades said the court failed to reach the incarcerated Santiago, prompting her decision regarding the $5,000 bench warrant.

“I don’t think it prejudices anyone to go ahead and issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest, when and if he becomes available,” Rhoades said.

Authorities say Santiago flew overnight from Anchorage to Florida before the airport attack.

His trial was set for Jan. 22 as the Justice Department considers whether to seek the death penalty.

Santiago pleaded not guilty to a 22-count indictment in the shooting. He has been diagnosed as schizophrenic but his lawyers say he is competent for trial.

The FBI says Santiago told agents after the shooting that he acted under government mind control and then claimed inspiration by the Islamic State extremist group. No terrorism links have been found.

In November, Santiago showed up at the Anchorage FBI office, complaining of government mind control and voices in his head. The FBI handed him off to Anchorage police, which took him for a five-day hold at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Santiago gave them his gun for safekeeping so no one would steal it out of his car.

The gun was returned to him in December. Authorities say it was the same weapon used in the Florida shooting.


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