Man Who Threatened Fitial Faces Trial In CNMI

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Allegedly never told former governor he would assault him

By Andrew O. De Guzman

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 4, 2013) – Doctor John B. Joyner, who served as senior policy adviser to then-Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, yesterday testified that defendant Brian Kendall, 48, didn’t say that the then-chief executive would be bashed with a metal pipe or an aluminum bat.

Kendall, who has been diagnosed with bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders, is being tried on the charge of making a terroristic threat.

According to Joyner. Kendall, after seeing Fitial’s photo in Joyner’s office, said the then-governor should not resign but die.

Joyner said Kendall suggested that someone could be present at one of the doors in the administration building and may do harm to the governor.

At the time, Joyner said Kendall also claimed Fitial was evading media reporters by using the building’s back doors.

Joyner said Kendall was angry that his neighbor’s dogs were trespassing on his property, suggesting that the animals might be hit with a metal pipe or an aluminum bat.

After his conversation with Kendall, Joyner said he did what protocol dictated and reported the matter to Fitial who then told Joyner to call the Department of Public Safety.

Joyner told Fitial that the then-governor’s chauffer, Jermaine Nekaifes, was already told of the incident, but Fitial again told Joyner to call DPS.

At the time, Press Secretary Angel Demapan and Nekaifes were in Fitial’s office. The local Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office special assistant Marvin Seman arrived shortly.

Joyner testified that he "suggested heightened security and surveillance" on Kendall.

Joyner added: "I am certain Mr. Kendall didn’t say that he would bash the governor."

When crossed-examined by Assistant Public Defender Benjamin Petersburg, who represents Kendall, Joyner said there was no need to call security at that time.

The governor was not in danger, Joyner testified, referring to his conversation with Kendall.

There was no lockdown, and the governor didn’t go to a secured location as a result of Kendall’s conversation with Joyner.

But Joyner said he was not given a chance by detectives to review the incident report that became the basis for Kendall’s arrest.

Joyner said he heard rumors that Kendall was arrested and later read about it in the newspapers.

Joyner added that he was "stunned" after reading the Marianas Variety report about Kendall, describing that the arrest was "inappropriate and unnecessary."

Joyner also said that his Feb. 4 interview with KSPN-2 news was cut taken out of context. The part that was missing in the taped interview, Joyner said, was when he mentioned that Kendall’s statement was "not a direct threat."

Joyner said he declined to provide a statement to the detectives.

Press Secretary Angel Demapan, in his testimony, described Joyner as "visibly shaken and worried" following Joyner’s meeting with the governor and other officials.

Fitial’s chauffer, Jermaine Nekaifes, said Joyner appeared to be "somewhat serious and kind of concerned."

Nekaifes said he asked Joyner to stop narrating his conversation with Kendall because he, Nekaifes, had to first call special assistant Marvin Seman to get Joyner’s statement.

Nekaifes said Seman earlier received a reported threat about the then-governor.

In his opening statement, Assistant Attorney General James McAllister, the prosecutor, told the seven-person jury that the case against Kendall was not about free speech, press freedom or politics but about an "angry protester who crossed the line" in protesting against government.

Petersburg, for his part, asked the local jurors to return a not guilty verdict because his client, Kendall, is neither a saint nor a terrorist. The public defender added that Kendall, "in one of his manic episodes," went to the administration building for a conversation with Joyner at a time when Kendall was not getting medication for his mental condition.

Superior Court Judge David A. Wiseman will continue presiding over the trial today.

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