Justice Delayed

February 22, 2013

Joseph Acosta Crisostomo
Not long after the murder of Emie Romero I received an email telling me that her suspected murderer was career criminal Joseph Acosta Crisostomo.  It wasn't long after the brutal crime, that many people on Saipan suspected that Crisostomo murdered Emie. Since Emie's lifeless body was found in the ruins of the old La Fiesta Mall, her family and friends have been appealing for an arrest and justice.

Many are asking why the Office of the Attorney General waited until February 22, 2013 to arrest Crisostomo? The declaration of probable cause shows some excellent detective work.  It proves that a well-conducted police and FBI investigation was carried out and it looks like all of the evidence needed to make an arrest was secured by June 2012.

Within weeks of the murder, Crisostomo was identified as a suspect by identification of his voice on a 911call Emie made the night of her kidnapping and murder. Also, not long after the murder the rental car that had been driven by Crisostomo on the night of the murder was identified.  DNA samples sent to the FBI Laboratory in Virginia for analysis conclusively matched the suspect. Those results were completed by June 2012, but an arrest was not made until nine months later when Crisostomo was charged with first degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault in the first degree, robbery, theft, assault and battery, and disturbing the peace.

The DNA evidence in the case matches Crisotomo. A hair strand found in the rental car being driven by Crisostomo at the time of the murder was identified as a match to a hair strand taken at Emie's autopsy. The FBI Lab also concluded that black fibers found in vacuum sweepings of the rental car matched those from Emie's leggings that were used to strangle her. (Read the Declaration of Probable Cause below.) So why wait nine months to arrest the suspect?

In October 2012 the Acting Attorney General, Viola Alepeyo, the wife of Superior Court Judge Joseph Camacho, stated that she was going to hold a press conference to discuss the investigation.  DPS spokesperson Jason Tarong stated that the detectives at DPS had completed the investigation and forwarded the report to the OAG for action. So why didn't Alepeyo filed charges? Why didn't she hold a press conference as Chief Prosecutor Peter Pressley told the press she would? Why wait another five months?

Perhaps the delay has something to do with the fact that the suspected murderer should never have been paroled in December 2011 and should never have been granted bail by Judge Joseph Camacho after he was re-arrested in January 2012.

On January 11, 2012 only 24 days after Crisostomo released from jail after serving only half of his ten year sentence, two police officers found Joseph A. Crisostomo and John Namauleg at a secluded Susupe Beach in possession of ice (methamphetamine).

Testing confirmed that an ice pipe contained residue of the drug. He was charged with possesion of a controlled substance and contempt of court. John Namauleg was not arrested, according to one news source. He did testify against Crisostomo at his trial, according to The Saipan Tribune:
Namauleg testified he saw Crisostomo purchase “ice”, saw him smoke it and saw the arresting officers recover a glass pipe from the backseat of the car.
Why wasn't Crisostomo put back in jail in January 2012 after being arrested for drug possession and violating his parole? Anyone with such a long list of convictions should not have been paroled and if he violated the parole, as he did by using drugs, he should have been immediately put behind bars. In the months after his arrest for the drug charges and parole violation Judge Joseph Camacho raised his bail from $6,000 to  $31,000 and then reduced it to $6,000 again. This violent offender was released on bail and free to commit more crimes, including the rape and murder of an innocent woman. Why?

Repeat offenders like Crisostomo should not be released on bail. From The Saipan Tribune outlined his long history of criminal activity:
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. 
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.
Finally, at Criostomo's March 2012 trial Superior Court Judge Joseph Camacho revoked his probation and returned him to jail to serve the remaining 5 years of the ten year sentence without chance of early release or parole.

In December 2012 Superior Court Associate Judge Perry Inos issued a nine-page order denying Crisostomo's request to have Judge Camacho removed from his drug case because of a conflict with acting AG Viola Alepeyo.

The Saipan Tribune reported:
Crisostomo also argued that Camacho's spousal relationship with acting attorney general Viola Alepuyo, whose name appears in court documents, may affect the suspect's case. 
Inos ruled, however, that a judge is obligated to remain on the case if a movant fails to show good cause for recusal or disqualification. In the nine-page order, Inos also ruled that Camacho's ruling in the defendant's prior probation revocation hearing serves no basis for disqualification. He said Camacho's preview of the facts in this case arose in the course of ordinary judicial proceedings rather than from an extrajudicial source.
Read the CNMI papers any month and you'll see news of more repeat offenders arrested for new crimes. These are often violent crimes against women and children. Too often they are released on bail and given lenient sentences. What is needed to stop this insane cycle? New laws with mandatory sentences, less leniency in approving bail and parole? Something has to be done before any more innocent people are victimized.

Read the  declaration of probable cause:


Anonymous said...


The press regulary reports on Comacho's tough stance on most crimes... In the view of many, the guy is the best jurist on the bench. Both knowledgable and tough on criminals. To the last point, his toughness was ratcheted up a notch in the Spring of 2012. I suspect his gut turned at the rumors bouncing around regarding Crisostomo. Very few judges go through a career without having a guy they cut slack to doing similar or worse crimes. I agree... this guy had a sheet a mile long and no mainland jurist would have let him back on the street. Unlike other jurists, Comacho seems to have learned from his very severe mistake. By all accounts, he is the toughest jurist on the CNMI bench.

Anonymous said...

Wendy you are a teacher right? Ok stick with teaching and leave the law enforcement to the professionals. How many cases have you ever investigated as a law enforcement officer? How many times have you been called on the stand by defense counsel and been questioned on the evidence you gathered? How many of those cases where you did were for capital offenses? We understand you mean well but unlike your blog where it is easy to convict people in the court of public opinion on hearsay, rumours and general dislike, without a rebuttal, a guilty verdict in a court of law is much different, they have only once chance to get it right. with all due respect you stick to creating lesson plans and teaching in abstracts and law enforcement will deal with the dark realities of the real world.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 9:46

Please read this post again. It is filled with questions, such as, "Why wait 9 months to arrest the suspect?"; "Why announce that a news conference on the case is forthcoming and then never hold one?" Do you have the answers?

I am a teacher, an artist, a consultant, a writer and also do design for income.

Are you suggesting that writers only comment on or write about their own professions? Do you propose that the commentators should not report on news from Congress unless they are a member? Should bloggers not comment on legal cases or put forth questions unless they are lawyers or judges? Should writers should not write about anything unless they are experts in the field? I think not!

Seems like some of the questions I have about this delay and the case bothered you?

Furthermore, I do not teach in "abstracts."

One more thing –I write under my name, not anonymously like you do.

Anonymous said...

hey, i'm not a lawyer and i wondered the same things.

Anonymous said...

What you don't come out and say, Wendy, is that the suspect wasn't arrested until a day or so after Gov. Fitial left office. This needs to be investigated! The timing suggests that someone may have been protecting the suspect.

Anonymous said...

All the questions raised by Wendy here are valid. You don't need a law degree to ask these obvious questions. Noni 9:46 raises suspicions about the reason for the delay. The AGO didn't answer the obvious question about the reason for the long delay in making an arrest at the press conference that was finally held last week.

Anonymous said...

Lets all start raising questions. i am sure the defnce migjht find something no matter how absurd they can use to sow enough doubt to get a jury to find any doubt that might get an aqquital. the accussed has been charged lets not speculate until and if there is a conviction then the conspiracy therios can fly as to why it took so long. how would anyone feel if by making unsubstanciated allegations helped this guy get off? how many of u have been involved in criminal court cases, we have all seen guilty people walk because the defence sowed doubt on just speculation lets not muddy the water. we all want justice for Emie.....

Anonymous said...