Guam AGO Opposes New Trials For Blue House Case

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Assistant AG says jurors unbiased, victims not ‘coached’

By Gina Tabonares-Reilly

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Nov. 13, 2013) – Guam’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) opposed the defense motions for new trials for the two former policemen who were both convicted in connection with the Blue House Lounge kidnapping, prostitution and rape case.

In an 11-page filing submitted by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Quan, the prosecutor said a new trial can be granted only if a serious miscarriage of justice has occurred.

Quan said a jury of eight women and four men found David Q. Manila and Anthony Quenga guilty of most of the charges and counts ranging from official misconduct to first-degree criminal sexual conduct, adding that the defense has no basis to ask for retrial.

He said a motion for a new trial must be made within seven days after the verdict. Quenga and Manila were convicted Sept. 19; the motion for a new trial was filed Oct. 8.

The government lawyer answered all the issues cited by attorneys Terrence Timblin and Sylvia Stake in the retrial motion.

Quan said the improprieties in arguments do not warrant a new trial as he explained that the credibility of the witnesses should be left to the sound discretion of the jury.

As for the defense claim of a "highly charged atmosphere" and gag order, the government attorney asserted that all necessary steps were taken to ensure the jury kept an open mind.

"For defendants’ counsels to assert that the jurors were biased and could not be fair is disingenuous," Quan said.

The prosecutor also denied defense accusations of coaching the victims.

"Discrepancies in testimony given to law enforcement officers and subsequent testimony given at trial are common... All the witnesses were vigorously cross-examined by defendants’ counsels. The people take extreme umbrage at the unfounded accusation of coaching," Quan said.

Reduction of conviction

As for the motion to reduce convictions as to the first two charges to second-degree felonies, Quan insisted that kidnapping by way of confinement is generally a first-degree felony.

He said kidnapping is not a first-degree felony unless the defendant voluntarily releases the victim alive and in a safe place prior to trial.

"As evidence showed at trial, defendants never voluntarily released victims to a safe place instead, defendants abused their power as police officers of Guam to keep victims confined in Blue House, only to be released on the night of the raid," Quan said.

Quan told the court the defense motion to reduce convictions, adding that the Legislature intended to make kidnapping by confinement a first-degree felony and case law clearly supports the proposition that kidnapping by confinement is a first-degree felony.

A reply to the OAG’s opposition is due Nov. 15 and the corresponding response is due Nov. 20.

Judge Anita Sukola scheduled the motion hearing for Nov. 22 at 11 a.m. She said she can only set a date for the sentencing after the motion hearing.

Quenga and Manila were convicted Sept. 19 after three weeks of trial and four days of jury deliberation.

At least nine women from Chuuk testified against Manila and Quenga, and told the jury that they were forced and intimidated to work in a brothel.

The two cops were charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping; kidnapping; conspiracy to commit felonious restraint; conspiracy to compel prostitution; compelling prostitution; conspiracy to promote prostitution; promoting prostitution; first-degree criminal sexual conduct; second-degree criminal sexual conduct; attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct; attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct; criminal intimidation; and official misconduct.

They were initially indicted with Song Ja Cha, owner of the now-defunct Blue House Lounge, who was convicted in federal court and is now scheduled for a separate trial in the Superior Court of Guam in April 2014.

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