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Judge grants bail modification request of 2 women in child abuse and neglect case

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SUPERIOR Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo has granted the request of Stacey Laniyo to be released to her mother as third-party custodian on Thursday afternoon.

Laniyo along with Lynn Fitial were arrested last week for the death of a 3-year-old boy in March.

Fitial 44, and Laniyo 37, were each charged with child abuse or neglect.

At a hearing, Laniyo’s attorney Mark Scoggins asked the court to reduce her bail to $5,000 and allow her family to post 10% of the amount..

Scoggins told the court that Laniyo’s family had only raised $600.

Assistant Attorney General Erin Toolan objected to the bail modification, citing the gravity of the incident in which a child was seriously injured.

But Toolan did not oppose a third-party custodian after Laniyo’s mother told the court that she will not hesitate to report her daughter if she violates any conditions imposed by the court for her release.

The judge then granted Laniyo’s request to be released to her mother and ordered her to be under house arrest. There must be no children at the premises, the judge added.

He also allowed Laniyo to visit a doctor, and to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance at the CNMI Department of Labor if she is qualified, but her third-party custodian must always accompany her.

As for the other defendant, Lynn Fitial, Judge Govendo likewise modified her release conditions allowing her to attend church, visit the farm, and apply for PUA benefits if she is qualified. But no children must be present at the farm, the judge said.

Fitial, the mother of the victim, was previously placed under house arrest with her third-party custodian.

Fitial’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Veena Seelam requested that she be allowed to return to her employment at Kagman High School as teacher aide.

But Toolan objected to Fitial’s request to return back to work on Aug. 27, adding that Fitial’s employment with the Public School System has been terminated.

Judge Govendo said he will allow Fitial to resume work if she will be employed by PSS at that time.

The two defendants will return to court on Aug. 3 at 9 a.m. for an arraignment before Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the injuries on the boy was consistent with abuse.

Fitial told police that the boy had been ill and was given ibuprofen which he vomited.

Laniyo, in an interview with the police, described the 3-year-old boy as a child without fear and was “very naughty.”

A relative of Fitial, Laniyo told police that she had recently spanked him with a tree branch to “discipline him because he was naughty.”

Because of the injuries, DPS requested for an autopsy to be conducted on the 3-year-old boy.

Dr. Philip Dauterman stated that the cause of death was obstruction of the airway due to pharyngitis and tracheitis, contributed by peritonitis due to gastroenteritis.

Dauterman said the child’s illness was either caused by a bacterial or a viral infection and was so far advanced at the time he was brought to the emergency room of the hospital.

Dauterman said the child was effectively dead when he was brought to the ER and would have presented obvious symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fever and sore throat.

The pathologist said the boy’s symptoms would be obvious to any reasonable parent or guardian and a cause for concern.

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