Unwise Decision

December 29, 2010

I can make no sense of the perplexing decision made by law enforcement officials and the judge in the Kagman rape case.  I do not understand why the Office of the Attorney General dismissed without prejudice the rape charges against three men, two of whom have prior criminal convictions for sexual assaults.  One of the defendants, Alfred P. Hocog, was previously described by the AAG and the judge  as a "threat to the community and flight risk."

Ivan Jones Castro was arrested in 2002 for impregnating a 13-year-old child.  He is a registered sexual offender. Joseph Cabrera Camacho has a prior conviction for sexual abuse of a minor in 1999. He is a registered sexual offender.

Alfred P. Hocog, 18; Ivan Jones Castro, 33; and Joseph Cabrera Camacho Jr., 31 were scheduled to have their jury trial on January 3, 2011. The three, along with Angel Jesse Santos, were charged with raping a 16-year-old  high school student in Kagman.  Associate Judge David Wiseman has ordered them released.  Now they are free. Santos remains in custody behind bars at the Detention Center, and is a government witness against the three men who were released.

AAG Brian Gallagher recommended dismissing the charges against Hocog, Castro and Camacho without prejudice (meaning they can be charged at a later date).  The Marinas Variety reported:
“Today, the commonwealth recommended dismissing, without prejudice, a case against three of the four suspects involved in a kidnapping that occurred in Kagman in June of 2010. We are dismissing due to newly discovered evidence that requires further evaluation,” Assistant Attorney General Brian D. Gallagher, who is prosecuting the case, said in an e-mail to the Variety.

“In light of the court’s tight schedule, the commonwealth cannot properly evaluate this evidence prior to the trial date of Jan. 3, 2011. Accordingly, the only recourse is to dismiss the case at this time, and re-file at a future date,” Gallagher added.

On Monday, the AGO filed a motion for continuance in March next year which the court denied.

Since the trial could not be postponed, Gallagher said “the commonwealth’s best recourse was to dismiss this case, and conduct further investigation.”
Apparently this has something to do with a report from the FBI that stated that no DNA or semen from the defendants was found on the victim. I am not sure what this proves since sexual assault and rape does not necessarily involve semen and any one of the men could have used condoms.  Gallagher stated that the report on the DNA from the FBI was oral and he is waiting for a written report. AAG Brian Gallagher previously stated that the evidence that Alfred P. Hocog raped the girl was overwhelming.

It seems that the judge could have ordered the prosecutor to complete his investigation and kept the men in custody or he could have agreed to a continuance at a date earlier than March 2011 if he thought that was too distant.

Previously the judge stated how dangerous Hocog was when he reinstated Hocog's $100,000 bail.  On August 31, 2010 the Saipan Tribune reported:
“Although these alleged crimes were committed with other co-defendants, Hocog, according to the testimony at the preliminary hearing, was the principal attacker and the one who continuously beat the victim unconscious,” said the judge in a written order issued yesterday.

In granting the government's motion, Wiseman he considered factors such as charged offenses, the weight of the evidence, the potential threat to the safety of individuals and to members of the community, as well, as the possibility of flight to avoid prosecution.

Wiseman noted that testimony at the preliminary hearing described the egregious manner in which Hocog allegedly kidnapped, assaulted, and sexually abused the 15-year-old victim.

...Based on such a representation from an officer of the court, Wiseman said he finds it appropriate to consider this factor as warranting the court's finding that the weight of the evidence against Hocog is substantial.

“In other words, there is a substantial probability that defendant may have committed the crimes charged and that conditions less than those imposed would not minimize the risk of threat to the safety of the community or a risk of flight,” he said.

In addition, Wiseman said, the primary concern of every government is a concern for the safety and the lives of its citizens.

He said Hocog's threat to the community is reflected in his alleged conduct in viciously attacking and sexually abusing an underage victim.

“The court finds that [Hocog] does present a threat to the safety of the residents of Saipan,” he said.

The charges filed against the suspects carry severe penalties. Sexual assault carries a maximum of 30 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of eight years in prison. Kidnapping has maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

“Therefore, [Hocog's] motivation to flee is extremely high,” Wiseman said.

He said Hocog's release on any other terms at this time would be inadequate to protect the community and prevent the risk of flight.
Because of the actions of the OAG and Superior Court Associate Judge David Wiseman, Angel Santos may now withdraw his plea agreement.  In that agreement he agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit sexual assault in the first degree and agreed to testify against the three that allegedly raped the child at Tank Beach. The charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, sexual assault in the first degree first degree, aggravated assault and battery, and disturbing the peace were all dismissed as part of the agreement. The agreement also stipulated that Santos would get no more than 20 years and no less than 10 years in jail under the plea agreement.  Santos claims that he acted as a "lookout."

Imagine how this child and her family feel.  They must be terrified.

Is Saipan a safe place? I don't think so.  There are convicted felons holding high government positions, people who got away with serious crimes in elected positions, appointed cabinets members who have broken laws, murderers who have had their sentences commuted, and felons and sexual predators who were given early release or parole only to commit new crimes.


Anonymous said...

This administration is proferring crime upon crime on this community.

Anonymous said...

The crime was committed last summer and they didn't have time to get their case in order? FIRE THEM! Why did the FBI just get the DNA evidence? Where was it stored? Did someone lose the evidence or switch it? What took so long? DAMN DUMB and IRRESPONSIBLE DPS, AGO and JUDGE.

Anonymous said...

Most of my frustrations are summed up in these articles comments:




Turns my stomach.

Anonymous said...

OMG Wiseman says Hocog is a flight risk and dangerous but can't reset the hearing or force the AGO to do their job!

Anonymous said...

Who the "BLEEP" wants to live in a cesspool where rapists run rampant on the streets, and the rape victims are further victimized by the judicial system? My teenage daughters and I will be fleeing the island within the year.

Anonymous said...

I am packing it up too. This place is lawless and hopeless. Good luck increasing tourism to an island where criminals rule and run free. There's no government money, no law, and a bunch of stupid fools sitting on capital hill either twiddling their thumbs or trying to bring gambling to the NMI. They already gambled away any decent future for the NMI. As for the judge. He should be run off the island along with Bucky,his incompetent AAGs, Fitial and all the others who destroyed the NMI. Just don't head where I'm going. Happy new year everyone. It looks like 2011 will be the worse ever for the NMI thanks to the Covenant Party. All you voters that re-elected Fitial and his goons, how's that working out for you?