The 10-month nightmare for Dominique Adams is finally over.
Her dramatic escape from the Philippines climaxed Wednesday afternoon when she landed in Los Angeles into the anxious arms of her 3-year-old daughter, Caprice, her father and her stepmother."I'm sure glad to be home," she excitedly told the Deseret News in a telephone interview shortly after her arrival.
The Provo woman illegally fled the country where she was standing trial on gun-smuggling charges and has been secretly making her way back to the United States for more than two weeks.
Adams, 23, said she jumped at the chance to flee the country when three Americans offered to help her, because she was "tired of playing games" with the members of the "corrupt" and "unfair" court system of the Philippines.
"It just seemed like nobody really cared enough to get this thing done with," she said. Her trial began in September and went through numerous delays, complications and other bizarre twists.
"I'd get my hopes up many times and then I'd get slammed."
The final straw came May 25 when Judge Fermin A. Martin was supposed to make a final determination of her innocence or guilt but instead postponed the decision until June 26 because of problems with the trial transcripts.
"I was really let down to find out that the transcripts had disappeared . . . which means they would have had to start the trial all over again," she said. "I couldn't take it any more! My daughter needs me! I need a life!"
Adams was arrested Aug. 19 at a Manila airport after customs agents discovered 70 handguns in crates she was transporting that were marked as auto parts. She maintains she knew nothing about the weapons and was tricked into transporting them by a California man who promised her a job.
Adams said concern about her health also played a part in the decision to jump bail. She had lost 25 pounds during the strenuous ordeal, and last month her appendix was removed and she was treated for ovarian cysts.
Adams said she lived "day to day," often in dangerous shanties because she had little money to live on. "I had everything I owned stolen several times."
Although Adams declined to give many details about her escape from the country, she said she was more excited about leaving than she was nervous about getting caught.
"It was a dangerous trip. It's not something I'd tell people to go out and try," she said. "But I feel good about what I did and I would do it again."
Adams' attorneys were unaware of her escape plans but admit she will not likely be extradited, even if the judge in the Philippines finds her guilty. There is no extradition treaty between the two countries, and agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are convinced of her innocence.
"She is beyond Philippine jurisdiction," said Renon Cruz, her attorney in Manila.
Despite all of the physical problems and emotional strain she suffered in the Philippines, Adams said the most difficult part of the ordeal was being away from her 3-year-old daughter. "She looks a lot different. She's a lot bigger and a lot smarter," she said.
"It's hard to imagine I was only expecting to be gone for four or five days."