Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has granted the request of attorney Janet H. King to have six court-appointed experts for the defense of Joseph A. Crisostomo, who is facing charges in the kidnapping and murder of bartender Emerita Romero.
In an order Thursday, Camacho authorized a total of $11,900 for the six experts: $2,400 in the field of forensic pathology, $2,000 in the field of cell phone forensics, $2,000 in the field of forensic DNA analysis, $1,500 in the field of forensic mitochondrial DNA analysis, $2,000 in the field of latent prints, and $2,000 in the field of forensic podiatry.
Should Crisostomo require more funds to secure the services of experts for his defense, he must make additional requests, said Camacho.
The judge found that Crisostomo has made a particularized showing of how these experts will assist his defense and that denying the use of these experts may result in an unfair trial.
King made the motions requesting funds for court-appointed experts on Sept. 4, 2013.
King asserted that the appointment of a separate forensic pathologist is necessary because she requires aid in reviewing the autopsy report and photographs.
King said the government will likely use their own expert to support the conclusion that Romero was raped, beaten, and that her cause of death was homicide.
King stated that the report and photographs contain scientific information beyond her legal expertise, for example, concerning the rate of decomposition and the position the body was when it was found.
King does not believe that simply interviewing and cross-examining the government’s expert will result in fair proceedings.
King also asserted that a cell phone forensics expert is necessary to aid the defense because the government intends to introduce evidence concerning the alleged location of Crisostomo on the night Romero died based on cell phone tower activation information.
King said she needs the assistance of an expert to understand what kind of questions she should ask the government’s expert to determine whether his methods are reliable and yield valid location information.
On forensic DNA analysis, King asserted that without assistance in understanding the DNA evidence, she will be unable to challenge the conclusions reached by the government’s experts.
With respect to forensic mitochondrial DNA analysis, King represented that the government will rely on mitochondrial DNA analysis to link to Romero a hair recovered from the rental car Crisostomo was allegedly driving on the night of Romero’s death.
Pertaining to latent prints, King stated that she understands that a total of 16 to 18 prints were taken from the rental car and the crime scene, and that none of those prints match Crisostomo.
On forensic podiatry, King disclosed that the FBI recovered bare footprints at the crime scene and made copies of those prints using a special gel.
King also reported that the government made ink prints of Crisostomo’s feet.
King requested an expert in forensic podiatry to educate her on footprint identification, and assist her in formulating the proper questions for cross-examination.
FBI agents found Romero’s body at the former La Fiesta Mall in San Roque on Feb. 7, 2012, two days before she was last seen boarding a car near her house in Garapan. Investigators learned that Romero mistook the car for a taxicab.