“Welcome to my court! You can be sure that you will get the justice you deserve.”
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho had that message yesterday for Joseph Acosta Crisostomo, sentencing him to the maximum of five years and six months in prison for possession of less than a gram of methamphetamine or “ice” and criminal contempt.
Some of about 10 police officers who watched the proceeding were seen nodding their heads and a few exclaimed “Yes!” after hearing the sentence handed down on Crisostomo. Other people in the gallery were relatives and friends of slain bartender Emerita Romero. The 39-year-old Crisostomo has been charged in her murder.
“Mr. Crisostomo, it is absolutely crystal clear that in your case, justice is long overdue!” the judge said.
Expressionless, Crisostomo leaned slightly forward on the table beside his counsel, acting chief public defender Douglas Hartig.
Crisostomo was sentenced to five years for illegal possession of “ice” and the maximum of six months for criminal contempt.
The five years and six months imprisonment shall be served day to day, without the possibility of parole, probation, early release, work or weekend release, or any other similar program.
Based on Crisostomo's extensive rap sheet, Camacho said the new sentence will run consecutively with the five-year sentence Crisostomo is serving in a previous criminal conviction-for a grand total of 10 years and six months.
Camacho said no credit for time served will be given as Crisostomo is already serving time in the previous criminal case.
The judge read all charges on a list containing 14 criminal cases in which Crisostomo was arrested but the cases were not forwarded for prosecution. Camacho also read the charges in 11 prior criminal cases where the defendant was arrested and prosecuted.
“At this stage, we do not even need to list your extensive juvenile record,” Camacho said.
In every criminal case, Crisostomo's cases were either dismissed or plea bargained in exchange for some form of leniency.
“Every case except one,” said Camacho, citing a 2007 burglary and theft case that was transferred to him last year. Camacho imposed in that case the full maximum of five years of the suspended sentence.
Given Crisostomo's extensive criminal history, Camacho said it is obvious that the defendant is not the type who learns from his mistakes.
“You have demonstrated from your life of crime that leniency and mercy from the past courts were viewed as signs of weaknesses,” Camacho said.
Assistant attorney general Chemere K. McField had recommended the full maximum sentence. Hartig recommended a sentence of five years, of which only two will be served.
“Defendant has a long history of criminal violations here in the Commonwealth. And we are truly, truly pleased to finally have justice served,” McField told reporters after the sentencing.
In the bench trial on Wednesday, Camacho found Crisostomo guilty of illegal possession of a controlled substance and criminal contempt.
Police and court records show that two police officers came upon Crisostomo and John Namauleg inside a car during routine patrol at a secluded beach in Susupe on Jan. 11, 2012, at 3am.
The officers found on Crisostomo and inside the car drug paraphernalia containing residue that came up positive for methamphetamine or “ice.”
In Crisostomo's case for the kidnapping and murder of Romero in February 2012, Camacho postponed again yesterday the scheduled preliminary hearing to Thursday next week as the court can't find a lawyer to represent the suspect.
Camacho said that 52 lawyers, including four attorneys at the Public Defender's Office, are all conflicted due to Crisostomo's extensive criminal history and other reasons.
The judge told the defendant that the court is trying its best to appoint a non-conflicted lawyer to represent him in the murder case.