Attorney Janet H. King has asked the Superior Court to provide her $2,000 more to continue to employ private investigator Anthony Gomez to help her prepare for her defense of Joseph A. Crisostomo, who is facing charges in the kidnapping and murder of bartender Emerita Romero.
Saipan Tribune learned that Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho granted last week King’s ex parte motion for additional funds for a private investigator. The judge, however, stressed that Gomez’s work will be subject for review.
On April 11, 2013, Camacho approved King’s request to hire Gomez at the rate of $35 per hour for a maximum fee of $2,000 in order to assist King in locating and interviewing potential witnesses, in preparation for Crisostomo’s defense.
King said that Gomez states that he has put in over 57 hours of his investigative time into this case so far and has exceeded his cap of $2,000.
King said that at the time of Gomez’s appointment, the government provided over 600 pages of discovery material, not including photographs, audio and video files. Since then, King said, the government has provided over 600 pages of additional discovery material, as well as additional photographs, audio and video files.
King stated that all criminally accused are entitled to the effective assistance of counsel, which includes effective investigation.
In his affidavit attached to the motion, Gomez was actually requesting for additional $4,000 to “complete the investigation before the trial date.” Gomez said it is his belief that the initial amount of $2,000 approved by the court for the defense investigator is insufficient.
Recently, King requested the court to appoint six experts for Crisostomo’s defense and authorize $11,900 funding for such experts. Camacho granted the motion.
The jury trial of 40-year-old Crisostomo will be on April 7, 2014.
FBI agents found the body of Romero at the former La Fiesta Mall in San Roque on Feb. 7, 2012, two days after she was last seen boarding a car near her house in Garapan.
Crisostomo is facing charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and five other charges. If convicted of all charges, he may be sentenced to life or up to 55 years in prison.
Crisostomo is currently in serving a 10-year prison term for another conviction. His projected release is Sept. 13, 2022.