Accused Florida airport shooter to appear in Alaska case by phone

Published: Mar. 28, 2017 at 5:22 PM AKDT
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As he awaits trial on charges of killing five people at a Fort Lauderdale airport, former Anchorage security guard Esteban Santiago still has unfinished business in Alaska courts.

The 27-year-old faces

related to a Jan. 10, 2016, encounter at the home of his girlfriend in Fairview. Anchorage District Court Judge Jennifer Henderson arranged for Santiago to appear by telephone for sentencing in that case on April 18.

“We obviously can’t even try to get him on the phone for today’s date,” Henderson said at a hearing today. Defense attorney Max Holmquist said he had not talked to Santiago and was not comfortable waiving Santiago's right to appear in court on the lesser charges.

The Anchorage court date had been scheduled long before the airport shooting. Santiago had agreed to undergo anger management classes here and was seeking to knock down the misdemeanor charges of breaking a door and attacking his girlfriend, Alaska court records show.

Yet his life appeared to unravel throughout 2016.

Santiago temporarily surrendered his handgun to authorities in Anchorage after appearing at the local FBI offices in November, talking of mind control and ISIS. Also in November, Santiago was fired from his job as a security guard due to “documented mental illness,” according to paperwork obtained from the state by KTUU.

The handgun was returned to Santiago within weeks. Karen Loeffler, U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, has said there was no mechanism in federal law for officers to permanently seize the weapon.

Authorities say Santiago flew from Anchorage to Florida with the firearm in his checked baggage and opened fire upon arriving at the airport Jan. 6.

Since the airport killings, Santiago has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and

, defense attorneys wrote in a filing earlier this month. A hearing is scheduled in that federal case on April 21.