Judge: Briteramos guilty of escape

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 19 2002 11:00 PM ET

A South Dakota judge on Tuesday found that Nikko Briteramos, the first person in the state to be found guilty of intentionally exposing another person to HIV, violated the conditions of his sentencing agreement on the very day he was sentenced, amounting to a charge of escape from jail. Briteramos, 19, received a five-year suspended sentence for the HIV-exposure charge that required him to spend 120 days in jail, but he was permitted to leave the jail to attend classes at Si Tanka-Huron University in Sioux Falls, S.D. On August 29, the day he was sentenced, Briteramos left the jail to register for classes at the university, but he did not return for more than 5 1/2 hours. He reportedly went to his apartment and to a friend's apartment before returning, and a urine test given to Briteramos at the jail on his return tested positive for marijuana.

Judge Tom Tucker ruled that Briteramos's lengthy absence from jail amounted to escape. An October 1 court date has been set to determine sentencing for Briteramos on the new offense. Court officials say it is likely Tucker will nullify the original sentencing agreement and sentence Briteramos to the full five-year term he originally received.

Briteramos tested positive for HIV when he tried to donate blood in February. He was later charged with knowingly exposing a female sex partner to the virus, a felony that carries a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The woman involved in the case, identified in court documents only by her initials, has tested negative for HIV infection.