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Woman pleads guilty in murder case that got her cop boyfriend fired

The one-time girlfriend of a former Philadelphia homicide detective pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday for killing one of her previous lovers.

The one-time girlfriend of a former Philadelphia homicide detective pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday for killing one of her previous lovers.

Erica Sanchez, 36, pleaded guilty in Common Pleas Court to third-degree murder and possessing instruments of a crime in the Sept. 8, 2013, slaying of her ex-boyfriend, Cesar Vera.

After the murder, Sanchez allegedly conspired with her boyfriend at the time, then-Homicide Detective Ronald Dove, to flee Pennsylvania, according to police.

At the request of Sanchez's attorney, Peter Bowers, Judge Diana Anhalt deferred sentencing in the murder case until March so Bowers can prepare a sentencing memo to detail mitigating factors in Sanchez's case.

"This girl had a rough row to hoe, and we'll present that," he said after court.

The attorneys in the case did not agree on a recommended sentence, so Anhalt could sentence Sanchez to up to 40 years in prison on the third-degree murder charge and up to five years for possessing instruments of a crime.

Several plainclothes officers from the Police Department's internal affairs and homicide units attended the sentencing, as did five of Sanchez's relatives.

According to police, after stabbing Vera outside a North Philadelphia after-hours club, Sanchez called her then-boyfriend, Dove, while he was on duty as a homicide detective at police headquarters.

Dove, now 44, allegedly swooped in, picked up Sanchez and helped her ditch her car at an autobody shop before taking her to a hotel room he paid for in Rochester, N.Y., police said.

Dove bought Sanchez a cellphone that was difficult to trace and stayed in contact with her even after he returned to Philadelphia, prosecutors said.

According to a grand jury investigation, Dove even went back to upstate New York and took Sanchez to Niagara Falls for two days as his colleagues worked to solve Vera's homicide.

But after a few weeks, a tearful Dove told investigators that Sanchez had been involved in Vera's slaying, although he claimed she killed Vera in self-defense, prosecutors said.

On Oct. 16, 2013 - more than a month after Vera's death - Sanchez turned herself in to police and was charged with murder and possessing instruments of a crime. She has been held without bail at the Riverside Correctional Facility on State Road in Holmesburg since.

A month later, then-police Commissioner Charles Ramsey fired Dove for allegedly lying to internal affairs investigators about the case.

It wasn't until January 2015, following a grand jury investigation, that Dove - a 16-year veteran of the force - was charged with hindering apprehension, conspiracy, obstructing the administration of law, tampering with evidence, and related offenses. He was released the same day after posting $25,000 bail.

Sanchez was hit with a similar set of obstruction charges at the same time, giving her a second case on top of the murder case she already faced. That case remains open, as does the case against Dove.

Both Bowers and Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega, who prosecuted Sanchez's homicide case, declined to comment on her open case.

According to court records, Dove "does not wish to plea." His case is slated for a two-week jury trial in January.

Sanchez, wearing a charcoal-gray pantsuit and eyeglasses, said little in court Wednesday. The short, bleached-blond hair she had when her mugshot photograph was taken is now long and ombre brunette.