Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho issued an order yesterday granting Joseph A. Crisostomo’s motion to bar the introduction of evidence linking him to the murder of a Chinese woman at Lao Lao Beach in 2006.
Camacho said the probative value of the proposed evidence is outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice to Crisostomo, and the undue delay that would occur if such evidence be introduced.
“The law requires that such proposed evidence be excluded,” said Camacho.
Crisostomo is facing charges of kidnapping, murder, and other offenses in connection with the killing of bartender Emerita Romero, whose body was found at the former La Fiesta Mall in San Roque on Feb. 7, 2012. His trial will start on April 7, 2014.
The Office of the Attorney General filed in August a notice that it intends to introduce evidence showing that Crisostomo kidnapped, murdered, and robbed Bao Ying Chen in November 2006. The OAG wants to do this to prove Crisostomo’s identity in Romero’s case, arguing that the similarities between the 2006 acts and the crimes charged in Romero’s case indicate that Crisostomo has a modus operandi.
Crisostomo, through counsel Janet H. King, asked the court to exclude evidence of this alleged 2006 murder, noting that he was never charged but was only investigated as a suspect.
King argued, among other things, that the 2006 evidence is of low probative value as the similarities alleged are not unique, nor will they be supported by evidence.
In granting the motion, Camacho cited a precedent case that states that a “defendant is never on trial for who he is, but rather, the trial process seeks to determine what, if anything, he did.”
Camacho said he is persuaded by Crisostomo’s arguments that the similarities between the alleged 2006 acts and the crimes charged are not unique.
“There are some similarities between the two homicides; for example, both victims were women whose bodies were found in uninhabited areas. However, there are also differences,” Camacho said, citing that Romero was fully clothed and found at the former La Fiesta Mall, while Chen was found naked at Lao Lao Beach.
Instead of weighing the evidence in the case at hand, Camacho said the jury would likely rely on a belief that Crisostomo is a bad person with a propensity to kill people and thus deserves punishment.
“Such inferences are forbidden and go against fundamental principles of our legal system,” said Camacho.
Additionally, Camacho said, introducing the proposed evidence will unduly delay the trial.