NORTHERN MARIANAS JURY ACQUITS COPPER WIRE THIEF

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Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 8) – A Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Superior Court jury yesterday acquitted a man of a felony charge in connection with a copper wire theft case, but the judge convicted him of two misdemeanor charges.

The seven jurors — five women and two men — found Simon Sebuu not guilty of one count of burglary.

But Judge David A. Wiseman said Sebuu was guilty of the misdemeanor charges of theft and criminal mischief.

Wiseman set the sentencing for Dec. 4 at 9 a.m.

The jurors started deliberating at 1 p.m. yesterday and returned a verdict at 4 p.m.

The trial of Sebuu’s co-defendant, Alfred Obak, will be held separately.

The charge of receiving stolen property against another co-defendant, Weider Debengek, was dismissed on Friday.

Government prosecutors moved for the dismissal.

Assistant Attorney General Anne Marie-Roy asked the court yesterday to remand Sebuu to custody pending sentencing but Wiseman denied it.

Sebuu is currently on bail release.

His counsel, Assistant Public Defender Malik Edwards, in an interview yesterday said they were happy with the jury’s verdict.

"The jury did the right thing," he said.

But Edwards said he was disappointed with Wiseman’s verdict.

"The kid’s testimony was inconsistent but the judge believed it," Edwards said.

Government prosecutors declined comment.

In her closing arguments yesterday morning, Marie-Roy said Sebuu wanted some money and decided that he would break into the Little Angels Day Care Center in Koblerville.

She said a juvenile testified that he and Sebuu went to the care center, tore a window screen and stripped the wire from the power box.

The juvenile and Sebuu then went to a recycling center to sell the wire but this did not materialize because they did not have any identification cards at that time, Marie-Roy said.

The juvenile and Sebuu later returned to the recycling center and sold the wire.

Marie-Roy said there was no reason for the juvenile to lie in court.

The juvenile, she added, admitted his crime, took responsibility for what he did and has been punished already.

But Edwards said the juvenile was lying and was just blaming Sebuu to avoid trouble.

The prosecutors wanted a police officer to testify about his affidavit which stated that one of the defendants admitted the crime.

But the defense objected, which the court sustained.

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