An acquaintance of Luis Negron's, the driver in a fatal hit-and-run on Park Street in 2008 that took the life of Angel Arce Torres, was paid a $10,000 reward Wednesday for giving police information that led to Negron's arrest and conviction.
A Superior Court judge Wednesday granted Ana Santiago's petition for the reward — to be issued by the governor's office — over the objections of the victim's son.
Angel Arce told the judge that Santiago does not deserve the money, saying she withheld crucial information and "hid" Negron for a year before coming forward.
Santiago, he said, should be arrested for harboring a fugitive.
"The state waits until we start to heal and slaps us in the face with this," Arce said.
Although Arce referred to Santiago as Negron's aunt, state prosecutor John Fahey said she is Negron's girlfriend's stepfather's cousin and not a blood relative.
Regardless of their relationship, the reward was meant for the first person who provided information that led to an arrest and conviction, said Fahey, who filed the petition on behalf of Santiago.
Arce's father, Angel Arce Torres, was struck while crossing Park Street on May 30, 2008. He was paralyzed from the neck down and died of his injuries a year later at 79.
Negron pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and evading responsibility. He was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison.
Santiago told police she witnessed Negron get into his car and chase another driver after an argument over money at Pope Park. She also told police that, after the accident, she overheard Negron say he wasn't going to turn himself in because he had to care for a newborn baby, Fahey said.
The details she provided corroborated information from other witnesses and was instrumental in resolving the case, Fahey said. Arce had also provided police with information, including Negron's name and address, but none of it could have been used in court to secure an arrest, Fahey said.
"Whether I like it or not, she has the most rightful claim to that money," Fahey said.
Reward money is offered to encourage citizens to come forward and help authorities solve crimes, said Superior Court Judge David Gold. Police had not made any advances in the case until after Santiago gave them a statement.
The reward offered by the governor's office in this case essentially led to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Torres' death, Gold said.
"I do firmly believe that there is a real chance that if Santiago had not come forward, this family would still be putting up posters, would still be begging someone to come forward," Gold said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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