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Last updateTue, 10 Dec 2019 12am







    Sunday, December 8, 2019-11:55:41P.M.






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US court denies motion to exclude testimony of defense witness in ‘ice’ case

DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied the motion of the U.S. government to exclude the testimony of an expert witness against one of the three Chinese nationals indicted for the shipment of 4.9 lbs. of “ice” worth $850,000 in December last year.

Judge Manglona denied without prejudice the motion filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth R. Backe. To deny without prejudice means the U.S. government may renew it at an appropriate time in the course of the trial.

According to the judge, the defendant’s expert will be a rebuttal witness, and the court has yet to determine whether the U.S. government’s witness will be permitted to give expert testimony.

She said if the U.S. government’s witness is permitted to testify, then the court will be inclined to allow the defense a rebuttal witness.

Backe earlier requested that the federal court exclude the testimony of a police investigator for the defense.

Backe said the expert witness for the defence will testify that there is an explanation for the erratic driving behavior of the co-defendants in this case, Xi Huang and Shicheng Cai, as they are drivers from China and that defendant Zhaopeng Chen did not understand what Huang was doing.

Backe said the defendant’s notice fails to comply with Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures which requires the defendant to give to the U.S. government a written summary of any testimony that the defendant intends to use as evidence at trial.

Backe said this summary must describe the witness’s opinions, the bases and reasons for those opinions and the qualifications of the witness — which, he added, the defendant has not complied with.

Backe said the testimony of the expert witness would be improper and can be both powerful and misleading.

The attorney for plaintiff Chen, David G. Banes, in his reply asked the court to deny the U.S. government’s motion to exclude the testimony of the defendant’s expert witness.

He said the defendant provided proper notice even though the U.S. government has not yet complied fully with Rule 16 about its experts, and that there is no legal basis or authority for the U.S. government’s demand that Chen be precluded from offering any testimony on the same topic as the U.S. government’s expert witness.

Banes said “such a request is patently unfair and must be denied.”

Chen’s co-defendant, Huang and Cai, have already pled guilty. Huang was sentenced to 188 months of imprisonment while Cai has yet to be sentenced.

Banes said per discovery materials provided by the U.S. government, Huang denied Chen’s involvement in the conspiracy when he was given a chance to talk before his sentencing.

Banes said the U.S. government asked the court to exclude the testimony of the defense expert witness on the very same topic that the U.S. government hopes to provide expert testimony from a police officer.

Chen, Huang and Cai were indicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine over the shipment of 4.9 lbs. of “ice” worth $850,000 in Dec. 2, 2015.

Customs officers conducting a routine inspection at the Port of Saipan discovered the 4.9 lbs. of “ice” hidden in three plastic bags in one of nine 5-gallon paint buckets in a 40-foot container from Guangzhou, China which led to the arrest of the three defendants.