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    Sunday, October 20, 2019-6:34:39A.M.






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Defense lawyer in rape case says prosecutor incompetent; seeks mistrial

THE lawyer of a man accused of raping a woman moved for a mistrial, saying that the lead prosecutor is incompetent to represent the government and the alleged victim.

Attorney Bruce Berline said Assistant Attorney General Teri Tenorio cannot call the alleged victim, who took the witness stand on Tuesday, by her first name, and cannot give the impression that they are friends.

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Attorney Bruce Berline with defendant Manolo Romolor arrive at the federal courthouse on Tuesday.
Assistant Attorney General Teri Tenorio arrives at the federal courthouse on Tuesday.  Photos by Bryan Manabat

“Improper vouching for a witness — the prosecution cannot do that,” Berline told Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja who is presiding over the jury trial.

 “Referring to a witness on a first-name basis —  that implies that there is some special friendship relationship there, and that’s vouching,” Berline added.

Vouching is defined by Merriam-Webster Law Dictionary as “an impermissible practice by a prosecutor of placing the prestige of the government behind its witness or otherwise insinuating to the jury that the prosecutor offers personal assurance of the witness’s veracity.”

 Berline said “the other thing is, you cannot misstate testimony. The prosecutor cannot say, ‘Oh she [the alleged victim] lost consciousness again.’ There was never any testimony about lost consciousness in this trial.”

The 37-year-old alleged victim testified that the defendant, 35-year-old Manolo Romolor, took advantage of her intoxicated state and raped her.

She told the court that she and Romolor did not have any romantic relationship.

On the night of the alleged incident, she said she wanted to get drunk because she was upset with her boyfriend.

She said she didn’t remember anything that happened after she lay down and slept.

She said she later woke up because she felt someone was on top of her and a mouth was pressed on hers. It was Romolor, she said.

Asked by Berline whether she yelled at Romolor to get off her, she said, “No, I used my normal voice.”

 “When you grabbed Romolor’s face to see who it was, did you scream or yell?” Berline asked.

 “No,” the woman replied.

 “Why didn’t you scream?” Berline asked.

 “I was under the influence of alcohol. I was so drunk, and helpless,” the woman said.

Berline noted that she neither yelled nor screamed. She also did not get out of the bed when the incident was happening in a bedroom where two other adults and three children were also sleeping, “and were inches away” from the alleged victim, Berline added.

 Asked by Berline if Romolor threatened, hit her, tied her up or held any weapon against her, the woman said, “No.”

 But she also said that her friend hit Romolor three times while he was on top of her. Her friend asked him what was he doing.

 “Did you say anything to your friend?” Berline asked the alleged victim who said, “No.”

 “You had a cell phone,” Berline added, “did you call the police?”

 No, she replied.

 Romolor has been charged with one count of sexual assault in the first degree and assault and battery.

The alleged rape occurred in Nov. 2016, between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., in a Gualo Rai apartment.

The jury trial will resume today, Wednesday, at 9 a.m. at the federal courthouse.