The murder of a Chinese woman in 2006 and the killing of bartender Emerita Romero in 2012 demonstrate a strikingly similar plan and motive, according to the Office of the Attorney General.
In court papers submitted to oppose Crisostomo’s motion to exclude evidence of prior acts, assistant attorney general James B. McAllister said the evidence provided in discovery shows that Joseph A. Crisostomo was driving a gold/brown tinted Toyota Echo from Islander Rent-A-Car on the night of the 2006 murder of Bao Ying Chen.
Crisostomo was seen looking intently out of the rental car at a woman walking alone late at night, said McAllister.
McAllister said that Crisostomo quickly dropped off his only passenger and left alone in the rental car for several hours.
The prosecutor said a very similar car was seen quickly leaving the area near where Chen’s naked body was found soon after the murder.
Upon Crisostomo’s return, McAllister said, witnesses noticed that the interior of the rental car was damaged and that Crisostomo had scratches and blood on his arm.
Crisostomo was also allegedly in possession of a pink makeup bag, cash, and a cell phone that he tried to conceal. McAllister said the defendant searched the rental car and asked a friend to return it.
McAllister said Crisostomo gave the victim’s cell phone to a witness and later told the witness to discard the phone to avoid police detection.
Two fishermen found Chen’s body along the shoreline of Laulau Beach in the afternoon of Nov. 23, 2006. An autopsy reportedly determined that she died of asphyxiation by drowning.
Crisostomo is facing charges of murder, kidnapping, and other offenses in the killing of Romero.
The prosecutor said that in both Chen’s and Romero’s cases, Crisostomo was seen operating a tinted Islander rental car just before the abductions and later asked a third party to return the vehicles.
In both cases, McAllister said, Crisostomo is accused of abducting a young female late at night and leaving her asphyxiated body in an uninhabited area.
“In both cases, defendant was allegedly seen in possession of cell phones very similar to the victims’ the day after the abductions. Thus both crimes demonstrate a strikingly similar plan and motive, evincing identity,” he said.
McAllister said the government gave Crisostomo’s lawyer eight investigative reports detailing statements made by six different witnesses in Chen’s murder.
The prosecution, he added, also provided an affidavit of probable cause, providing a general summary of the evidence in Chen’s murder case.
McAllister concedes, however, that the evidence from the 2006 case is not intrinsic to the Romero case and that evidence is currently insufficient to prove a prior sexual assault against Crisostomo.
Crisostomo’s lawyer, Janet H. King, has opposed the OAG’s request to introduce evidence that links Crisostomo to Chen’s murder.
King said the circumstance the government wishes to say mirrors the 2006 murder and Romero’s case is that a rented sedan from Islander Rent-A-Car is alleged to be involved.
“Even if it was true (as it yet an allegation), this action of renting a car from Islander Rent-A-Car is not unique and thus cannot serve to identify anyone as the killer in either case,” King said.
The lawyer pointed out that simply categorizing Crisostomo as a suspect in a 2006 murder case (for which he is not even charged) “would be of little probative value in determining whether he committed the crimes charged in either case, and the prejudice would be great.”
McAllister has filed a notice of intent to introduce evidence at trial of Crisostomo’s other “crimes, wrongs, or acts.”
Romero’s body was found at the former La Fiesta Mall in San Roque on Feb. 7, 2012. An autopsy showed that she died as a result of asphyxia due to strangulation.