For more than seven months, Vile, 35, had thwarted efforts to deport him
from Canada, where he fled the day after he is accused of shooting Pierce.
Shortly after his arrest, Vile obtained a lawyer through a Quaker-based group and began fighting deportation to the United States.
Vile's case presented Delaware County prosecutors with a tough decision: whether to seek his extradition to this country or his deportation from Canada.
Extradition and deportation are sometimes used interchangeably, but as Delaware County and Canadian officials explained recently, the words describe different legal procedures.
In 1976, the United States and Canada signed an extradition treaty. Each nation may ask the other to return suspected criminals who have fled either country to escape prosecution.
Under the terms of the treaty, officials in both countries have the power to prevent extradition of criminal suspects in cases where the death penalty is possible.
Goldstein said Delaware County prosecutors did not ask the U.S. State Department to formally ask the Canadian Ministry of Justice to begin extradition proceedings. Delaware County officials feared that the process could take up to two years before Vile was returned.
Canada has never refused to return a suspected criminal to the United States, even if he faced the death penalty, Canadian officials said recently.
"When the treaty was negotiated," said William Corbett, the senior general counsel with the Canadian Department of Justice, it was U.S. negotiators who insisted on the provision giving each country the power to refuse to return people who might face the death penalty.
At the time, Corbett said, Canada had not outlawed the death penalty, although several states in the United States had. Senators from states that had outlawed it put pressure on negotiators to include the provision.
In a similar case two years ago, Canadian officials said they intended to return convicted murderer Joseph Kindler of Philadelphia to the United States without seeking assurances that he would not be executed. Kindler escaped from a Montreal jail before he could be returned.
But Corbett said at the time that the Canadian minister of justice wrote Kindler's lawyer and told him that it was not in the Canadian public interest to refuse to return Kindler because Canada did not want a reputation as a haven for murderers.
Deportation is governed not by treaty but by the immigration laws of each country, officials said. It was not necessary for U.S. officials to formally request Vile's deportation for him to be returned here.