Guam Blue House Trial Might Begin Next Month

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Attorney says denial of motions means trial is next step

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 22, 2013) – A trial for the suspects accused of inappropriate involvement in the Blue House brothel on Guam could begin as early as next month, according to one attorney in the case.

Earlier this week, Judge Anita Sukola, the judge hearing the case, denied all 16 motions filed by the defense.

Most of the motions in the case were filed on behalf of Guam Police Department Officer David Manila.

Manila's attorney, William Pole, filed eight motions, many of which were intended to dismiss the indictment against his client.

Manila and two other officers, Mario Laxamana and Anthony Quenga, face a number of charges in Superior Court, including conspiracy to commit kidnapping as a second-degree felony, nine counts of kidnapping as a second-degree felony, conspiracy to compel prostitution as a third-degree felony, and conspiracy to promote prostitution as a third-degree felony.

Pole's motions alleged, among other things, that the prosecution violated the officers' constitutional rights and that they had taken too long to pursue charges against them.

Sukola denied all eight of Manila's motions, all four of Laxamana's motions and both of Cha's motions. There were no motions filed on behalf of Quenga.

Only one motion, a motion for discovery, was granted by the judge. That motion was filed on behalf of prosecutors.

Now that the motions have been disposed of, Pole said that means the case will have to go to trial.

The next step will be a pre-trial conference, scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday.

The attorney said he doesn't believe Sukola's decisions were motivated by the trial's high-profile status,

"We have to respect the court's decision," he said.

Pole said attorneys can't file any more pre-trial motions, but could file appeals in the event that the trial doesn't favor the defendants.

He said cases such as the Blue House can be difficult to try on Guam, due to the community's close-knit structure.

Media coverage

Because of that, it's sometimes tough to find a fully impartial jury and a lot depends on media coverage, which can taint juror's opinions.

That won't necessarily be a big issue though, he said.

"So far the media has been responsible in its handling of the case," he said.

Pole said the conference's main purpose will be to set a date for trial. He said he would expect a trial to begin by the end of March.

However, a lot depends on the schedules and calendars at the court.

Pole said the parties in the case have to account for any other cases attorneys might be involved in.

The Blue House lounge was a brothel masquerading as a karaoke bar in Tamuning, which operated from 2004 to 2008.

After a federal trial in 2011, brothel owner Cha was sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking.

Immigrant women, mostly from Chuuk state in the Federated States of Micronesia, were forced into prostitution at the brothel, according to the federal trial.

A series of stories in the Pacific Daily News prompted law enforcement to open an investigation into alleged police involvement at the brothel. The three officers were indicted as a result.

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