A suspect who fled the country following the murder of a Good Samaritan in Groton faced a judge on Thursday.
Dante Hughes, 30, was arrested in Canada for the death of 24-year-old Joey Gingerella.
Police said they responded to Ryan's Pub on Fort Hill Road back on Dec. 11 for a reported shooting. They found Gingerella, who was transported to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital where he died.
Gingarella was reportedly trying to stop a fight outside of the bar when he was shot. Eyewitnesses said Gingerella was trying to come to the aid of a woman Hughes was allegedly attacking.
Hughes was identified as the suspect. Authorities said he was found trying to cross the U.S. and Canadian border. He was detained by Canadian officials there and eventually deported back to the U.S.
On Dec. 20, police said he was held at the Niagara County Jail in Lockport, NY as a fugitive from justice. He waived extradition and was turned over to detectives from Groton.
Hughes was arraigned on a murder charge at New London Superior Court on Thursday. The family of Gingerella was also at court on Thursday. They did not speak to reporters outside of the courthouse.
Police said while this is in no way closure, there is some small measure of relief that Hughes is back behind bars.
"I shy away from the word closure," Paul Gately, who is the deputy chief for the Town of Groton Police Department, said. "I'd rather say I hope this provides a level of comfort for the community and for the family of course...knowing that he is back in Connecticut and it is a first step in him facing justice in this case."
Gingerella was well known in Groton as a community activist who had battled drug addiction and gone on to help others do the same. At the bar, where he was killed, a memorial grows with flowers and balloons to honor his memory. One that police said will not be forgotten thanks to exceptional police work between two countries.
"Obviously we had him entered into our databases as a wanted person. We did have a warrant for a charge of murder that was entered," Gately said. "I am sure that when they checked him they determined he was in fact wanted in the United States."
In court, it was revealed that Hughes has had previous run-ins with the law in several states. Hughes was being held and did not meet the $500,000 bond. He is due in court next on Jan. 10.
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