The monster who allegedly murdered Emerita Romero on February 5, 2012 has been identified as Joseph Acosta Crisostomo, a violent 38-year-old career criminal who should have been behind bars when he murdered Emie.
Finally, over a year after her murder, a warrant of arrest was served on Crisostomo who is currently serving time in prison on other charges. The Marianas Variety reports that Crisostomo was charged with first degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault in the first degree, robbery, theft, assault and battery and disturbing the peace.
Emie, a former bartender at Godfather's Bar, was a loving mother, daughter, sister and friend before her life was taken by the brutal killer.
Did the CNMI's flawed legal system, and web of political and family allies play a role in her death? How many cases have gone unsolved or not prosecuted because the system supports letting those with family or political connections walk? How many lenient sentences, suspended sentences and awards of early parole allowed dangerous career criminals to be on the streets instead of behind bars where they belong?
Joseph A Crisostomo is reportedly a relative of former Senator Luis Crisostomo.
Suspended Department of Public Safety Commissioner Raymon Mafnas was accused of interfering with the case. Mafnas spoke to a key witness, but refused to turn in a witness report, saying he would not turn in a "God damn statement." Mafnas was put on administrative leave on March 26, 2012 after over 138 DPS employees signed a petition requesting his removal. Former Governor Fitial then appointed Mafnas as the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections.
Joseph Crisostomo should have been behind bars, not on the streets of Saipan where he was free to purchase more drugs and murder an innocent woman. He was given one of the CNMI's lenient sentences for robbery and was released on December 18, 2011. Emie was murdered less than two months later.
Here is a look at some of Crisostomo's previous arrests:
In 2000 Joseph A. Crisostomo assualted and threatened to kill a police officer at a routine traffic stop. From the Saipan Tribue:
Assistant Attorney General Clyde Lemons has charged before the Superior Court Mr. Crisostomo of assault and battery, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. Court records showed that on March 21, 2000, Mr. Crisostomo even threatened to shoot Police Officer Charles Patris and hit him while he was investigating a traffic case.In 2003 Crisostomo was arrested as a member of an organized ring of robbers who preyed on tourists at the Grotto. The case was dismissed.
In December 2006 Crisostomo was arrested for terrorizing a Kagman Family. The Saipan Tribune reported:
A man allegedly nearly hit a minor boy with his car and slammed his car's door, hitting the stomach of a pregnant teenager. The suspect also allegedly threatened to have somebody burn the house and shoot all people inside.In January 2007 a month after terrorizing the Kagman family, Crisostomo was arrested with his criminal friend was for possessing “ice”.
Police arrested the suspect, Joseph A. Crisostimo, 33, in Koblerville Saturday night for disturbing the peace, assault, assault with a dangerous weapon, and reckless driving.
In August 2007 Crisostomo was arrested for burglarizing the former Marianas Cable Vision office in Susupe. Crisostomo, his brother Calistro Crisostomo (another career criminal) and William Jerome Deleon Guerrero “stole from MCV a safe box containing $34,319.25 in cash, checks, and credit card payments.” A female being interviewed in another criminal case tipped off the police to the criminals, noting that Joseph Crisostomo had told her that the co-conspirators were not worried about being caught because “police don't have the equipment for the fingerprints.”
Crisostomo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the robbery. Five years were suspended. He was released from prison on December 18, 2011 and placed on probation. Less than a month later, in January 2012 he was discovered at a secluded beach in possession of "ice." It was in February 2012 that he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and for violating his probation.
In February 2012 during a probable cause hearing for the drug charge, Judge Joseph Camacho increased the bail of Crisostomo from $6,000 to $31,000. He was arrested for illegal possession of a controlled substance and contempt of court.
On March 1, 2012, Judge Camacho reduced the criminal's bail from $31,000 to $6,000 and placed him on house arrest. Chief Prosecutor Presley urged that the defendant should be imprisoned saying that "he posed a substantial danger to the community should he be released". The prosecutor also said that he "posed a flight risk." Perhaps at this time Crisostomo was already identified as the suspect in Emie's murder.
At the March 14, 2012 hearing Judge Camacho revoked the probation of the criminal and re-imposed the 5-year suspended sentence for his previous 2006 crime of burglary of Marianas Cable Vision. The Saipan Tribune reported:
Camacho said defendant Joseph A. Crisostomo's long criminal history and recent charges bespeak a deep lack of respect for the law, and the people of the CNMI.In March 2012, the Saipan Tribune reported the long criminal history of the murderer:
“Defendant appears to have mistaken the court's previous kindness for weakness,” Camacho said. “The court expects that defendant now appreciates the extent of judicial discretion.”
The judge ordered that defendant “is not eligible for parole, early release, or the like, he is to serve day to day five years from this date.”
Based on probation records, beginning in 1996, Crisostomo was charged in 10 separate cases, including the one for which he is now on probation. The charges included among others, theft, burglary, assault and battery, criminal mischief, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, theft of vehicle, and possession of a controlled substance.Would Emie be alive today if the flawed CNMI legal system had kept this criminal behind bars where he belonged? I believe so.
During approximately the same period, Crisostomo was charged in an additional 14 separate cases, which never proceeded to the OAG for prosecution. The charges included, among others, assault and battery, criminal trespass, disturbing the peace, child abuse/neglect, resisting arrest, reckless driving, assault with a dangerous weapon, and criminal use of a firearm.
Cristosomo is not the only violent criminal who was set free instead of remaining behind bars where he belonged. Just this week violent career criminal Ivan Joe Castro was arrested for beating his common law wife. Previously in 2002 he was arrested for raping and impregnating a 13 year old girl. He was freed after serving only four years in prison. He was then arrested for raping a 16 year old girl. The judge dismissed the charges.
Read this former post, Violence Against Women and Children in the CNMI: Take a Stand, to understand how dangerous Saipan is and why this epidemic of crime against women and children must be addressed.
Rest in peace, Emie.