Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 17 Jan 2019 12am







    Wednesday, January 16, 2019-4:21:29P.M.






Font Size


High court upholds conviction of Joseph Crisostomo in murder case

THE local Supreme Court, in a 39-page opinion issued on Friday, affirmed the conviction of Joseph Acosta Crisostomo who received a life sentence for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Emerita R. Romero.

On April 24, 2014, a jury found Crisostomo guilty of the charges.

Romero, 37,  was last seen getting into a car in Garapan in the early morning hours of Feb. 5, 2012. Two days later, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents found her body in a small bathroom at the abandoned La Fiesta Mall in San Roque/As Matuis. Based on the autopsy, it was determined that she had been beaten and strangled with a pair of leggings

Joseph Crisostomo

Through attorney Janet H. King, Crisostomo appealed his conviction and asked the high court to reverse the jury’s verdict and remand this case for a new trial. He alleged multiple abuses including constitutional violations committed by Superior Court Judge Camacho who presided over the trial.

The judge also decided on the misdemeanor charges against Crisostomo, and found the defendant guilty of assault and battery, and disturbing the peace.

On May 28, 2014, Judge Camacho imposed a life sentence without parole or work release on Crisostomo who was already serving a 10.5-year prison sentence.

In his appeal, Crisostomo said the combination of errors in his case violated his right to a fair trial and that “the cumulative effect of the errors in the context of the sum of evidence introduced at trial demonstrated that reversal by the high court is required.”

But the justices disagreed and stated that the government’s evidence pointing to Crisostomo as the perpetrator was undeniably strong.

The testimony of witnesses and the defendant himself all identified Crisostomo as driving a vehicle matching the description of that seen by an eyewitness, the justices added.

“Hair and fiber in the rented vehicle were consistent with those belonging to Romero.

“Three individuals separately identified Crisostomo’s voice on a 911 call where Romero was heard pleading to be released, complaining that her neck hurt, and asking to pick up her pants. Without knowing either party, the 911 operator identified the female voice as Filipina and the male voice as local.

“Cell tower records matched Romero and Crisostomo’s movement, including pinging Crisostomo’s borrowed phone in Marpi at 6 a.m. on Feb. 5, 2012. Footprints matching Crisostomo’s were found at La Fiesta next to drag marks. Crisostomo was seen by a witness attempting to sell a Blackberry Torch shortly after. And of course…testimony that there was a 1 in 960 million probability that the DNA found in Romero belonged to someone in the Chamorro population other than Crisostomo.

“Even after omitting the errors, numerous evidence remains. We find sufficiently strong, unrefuted evidence supporting Crisostomo’s conviction, and are unable to say, even when taken together, that it is more probable than not that the errors materially affected the verdict. We decline to reverse for cumulative error.”

The high court’s opinion was penned by Associate Justice John A. Manglona with Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro and Associate Justice Perry B. Inos concurring.