Justice for Emie

April 23, 2014

Today a Saipan jury found Joseph Acosta Crisostomo guilty of the February 2012 brutal murder of Emerita (Emie) Romero.

After six hours of deliberations, the Superior Court jury's verdict found Crisostomo guilty of the following felony charges: murder in the first degree, kidnapping, sexual assault in the first degree (rape) and robbery.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho ruled that Crisostomo was guilty of the misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and disturbing the peace

The prosecution presented a strong case, calling 31 witnesses to testify. The defense attorney, Janet H. King called one witness.

During closing arguments the prosecution pointed to the damning evidence. DNA samples taken from Emie's body were a match to Crisostomo. Other evidence included the haunting 911 call where Emie was heard pleading and screaming for her life. Crisostomo's voice was identified on that call. Fibers taken from the car Crisostomo was driving matched fibers on Emie's clothing. A footprint at the mall where Emie's body was found matched Crisostomo's footprint.

On February 5, 2012, Emie was waiting for a taxi driver to pick her up and she mistakenly got into the wrong car –Crisostomo's. The Saipan Tribune quoted the prosecution's closing arguments. In part:
In the government’s closing arguments, Brown-Badawy said that Romero was at the wrong place, in the wrong car, at the wrong time. 
Because of that, Brown-Badawy said that Romero, a mother of two, was kidnapped, brutally murdered, and robbed by Crisostomo, who was just looking for a victim in the early morning hours of Feb. 5, 2012, in Garapan. 
She said the evidence showed that Crisostomo raped Romero, strangled her with a pair of leggings, and discarded her body like garbage to rot in a small room at the abandoned La Fiesta Mall. 
Brown-Badawy said Romero could have been anybody else in the community, whether someone’s sister, friend, or relative. 
“To be at the wrong place at the wrong time is something that anybody is scared of,” she said.
A Career Criminal 
Crisostomo is a career criminal who should have been behind bars at the time he murdered the innocent young woman and mother of two children. 

The criminal is also linked to the 1995 murder of a couple who owned a shop in Dandan. The wife, Yu Hua Huang, was strangled like Emie was, and the husband, Zhao Ming Hou, was shot multiple times.

Crisostomo is also linked to the November 2006 murder of Bao Ying Chen. Her naked body was found floating at LauLau Beach. 

A previous post, "Emie' Romero Murderer Arrested" outlines the criminal history of the monster-killer:

In February 2012 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 from prison 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 assaulted 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.

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 January 2007 a month after terrorizing the Kagman family, Crisostomo was arrested with his criminal friend was for possessing “ice”.

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.

“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.”
In March 2012, the Saipan Tribune reported the long criminal history of the murderer:
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.
Would Emie be alive today if the CNMI legal system had kept this criminal behind bars where he belonged? 

Sentencing is scheduled for May 28. Crisostomo should be locked up for life. The penalties for his crimes exceed a life sentence. There is no death penalty in the CNMI.

May her family and friends find some closure in the verdict. Rest in peace, Emie.


Anonymous said...

There was also a statesider girl whose body was found floating at the old Cow Town in the early to mid 90s. They might also take another look at that case and how it might link to this monster.

Anonymous said...

What took CNMI & Feds so long to get this culprit? There are other monsters in CNMI government. When will they get caught? A police officer should not get transferred right away to another CNMI government agency when he commits a crime or is under investigation. It is not a law yet in CNMI that all CNMI government employees including lawmakers must go through a drug screening system. Why does CNMI governor Mr. Eloy Inos veto this type of law when it was almost becoming a law? A drug test for each employee has to be a must in CNMI; it does not matter if someone gets employed in government or private company.

Anonymous said...

Hear the 911 call:

Wendy Doromal said...

I cannot listen to that 911 call, but thank you for the link for interested readers.

Anonymous said...

Think of all the innocent lives that could have been saved if this criminal had been locked up for a normal sentence for even half the crimes he committed. It's the CNMI justice system that is responsible for Emie's death as much as he was. Will the judges ever learn?

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know which judges imposed which sentences on this guy all of his life.
This, along with other cases and judges sentences over their sitting terms would be a good gauge in any retention votes.(Or removal)
I am surprised that no one has ever came out with this when these Judges are up for retention.

It is also way past time for a mandatory three strikes law to force these Judges to get these career criminals off the streets.

But such is highly unlikely as all of these career criminals are related to elected or past elected and/or powerful local families.

Unfortunately we don't have any real candidates to choose from, only the same old recycled misfits, over and over again.