Attorney Janet H. King, counsel for a suspended police sergeant facing domestic violence charges, has accused chief prosecutor Shelli Neal and another government lawyer of deliberately withholding evidence that proves that the charges against her client are baseless.
King asked the Superior Court to dismiss the charges against Sgt. Elden Dela Cruz on the grounds that Neal and assistant attorney general Brian Flaherty allegedly committed an egregious prosecutorial misconduct.
“The prosecutors hid material exculpatory evidence until the very last minute, and continue to do so,” she said in her motion to dismiss the charges against Dela Cruz.
The information that King was referring to was about communication with Sgt. Dela Cruz’s wife, Rose Dela Cruz, and their daughter, two key witnesses in the case.
Also allegedly withheld were pages of notes of calls and meetings with the victim herself and an interview on June 27, 2013, by Neal of the daughter.
Saipan Tribune requested comments from Neal and Flaherty but there was no reply as of press time yesterday.
Dela Cruz is facing charges of assault and battery and disturbing the peace for allegedly beating up his wife on June 7, 2013.
In Dela Cruz’s new motion to dismiss, King said that both the wife and the daughter gave information to the prosecutors that proves the wife’s complaints against Dela Cruz’s “are untrue, and the charges are without basis.”
However, instead of dismissing the charges against her client, King said the prosecutors “knowingly concealed” information about the wife’s communications with the Office of the Attorney General and the daughter’s June 27 interview.
The two prosecutors’ misconduct, King said, deprives Dela Cruz’s of his constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial.
“Collectively, they establish a pattern and practice of egregious misconduct—and a resulting injustice of constitutional magnitude—for which the only remedy is dismissal of the information in its entirety,” she said.
King pointed out that since June 7, 2013, Dela Cruz’s wife had been constantly communicating with the OAG and the Department of Public Safety.
First, King said, the wife continued communicating with the OAG even after she submitted her handwritten statement, and up to just a few weeks ago.
To support the first motion, King filed in court the wife’s confession that she lied to police when she accused her husband, Dela Cruz, then officer-in-charge of DPS Internal Affairs Office, of beating her up.
Second, King said, she did a phone interview of the daughter, who is now in Texas, on Oct. 4, 2013, in which the daughter stated that she never saw her father strike or push her mother on the night of June 7, 2013.
King said the daughter told her that she disclosed those information during her interview at the OAG’s office with a prosecutor, a police officer, and a woman who works at the OAG on June 27, 2013.
King said it was not until Oct. 8, 2013, that the government gave Dela Cruz only the investigative report prepared by police detective Melissa Bauleong.
“This exculpatory evidence confirms that the defendant is correct, that the prosecutors knew all along that [the wife] lied, well before the defendant filed his motion to dismiss and, of course, well before the upcoming pretrial hearing and the trial scheduled,” she said.
King said this newly-produced and discovered exculpatory evidence provides crucial evidence that Dela Cruz did not commit any of the acts he is being accused of.
King said the prosecutors continue to prosecute a case even in the face of witnesses that showed there was no crime committed.
“They concealed the truth, foreclosed access to a key witness, and blatantly misrepresented the facts to this court,” she said.
King said that Dela Cruz is entitled to “an end to the embarrassment, ordeal, and continuing anxiety that he has been forced to endure from the time he was charged and arrested for a crime he never committed, but was forced upon him by a vengeful, zealous, jealous wife.”