6 years in jail for dousing woman with gas, starting fire

Prosecutor says domestic violence crosses all boundaries

Teri C. Tenorio

A man accused of dousing his girlfriend with gasoline and setting fire to their house pleaded guilty last week in the Superior Court and was slapped with six years imprisonment.

John Piteg Teregeyo, 25, pleaded guilty to arson (domestic violence) and assault and battery (domestic violence) as part of a plea deal.

Associate Judge Wesley Bogdan sentenced Teregeyo to 11 years imprisonment, all but six years suspended, with the possibility of parole.

After serving the prison term, Teregeyo will be placed on five years of probation, during which he will be required to stay 1,000 feet away from the victim and have no contact with her.

He is barred from handling guns and required to perform 200 hours of community service. He is also required to undergo a batterer’s intervention course, on top of paying court costs and fines, and restitution.

The judge also prohibited Teregeyo from going to bars, from drinking alcoholic beverages, or using drugs.

The government dropped the other charges against Teregeyo.

Chief Public Defender Douglas Hartig served as counsel for Teregeyo.

Assistant attorney general Teri C. Tenorio cited last week’s case, when Sylvestre R. Sablan was sentenced to 30 years for the brutal and senseless murder of his wife.

Two days later, Tenorio said, Teregeyo pleaded guilty to arson (domestic violence) and assault and battery (domestic violence) against a household member.

Tenorio said it’s been said that domestic violence is a family matter, but that’s a misnomer.

“Domestic violence goes beyond the reach of the fist to its intended victim,” she said, adding that domestic violence hurts everyone. “It crosses all boundaries of race, ethnicity, education, age, religion, economic background, physical ability, and sexual orientation.”

The effects, she said, transcend the family and society will continue to pay the cost until the community—men and women—come together with a unified condemnation of abuse and a promise that children in the CNMI will learn that violence is never justified.

Tenorio said the Office of the Attorney General remains committed to prosecuting crimes involving domestic violence in an effort to hold offenders accountable for their actions and to save lives, or, in the worst of cases, to seek justice for those who no longer have a voice.

Teregeyo allegedly attempted to kill his then-girlfriend by dousing her, her clothes, their bed, and their bedroom with gasoline and pushing her inside the bedroom to prevent her from fleeing as he set the room on fire.

The prosecution said that police, firefighters, and medics arrived at the smoldering residence and found the victim hiding at a nearby house, drenched in gasoline.

Witnesses described the victim as panicked and in fear of her life when she managed to escape the house and flee to safety.

Teregeyo was allegedly attempting to leave the scene but was spotted by two police officers, who managed to prevent him from fleeing.

The victim told police that she and Teregeyo were having an argument in the house’s bedroom when he went outside, brought in a container filled with gasoline, and spilled it around the entrance of the bedroom, inside the bedroom, and on her body last Oct. 20.

She said Teregeyo also choked and pushed her. He then allegedly shoved a shirt in her mouth.

The OAG charged Teregeyo with attempted first-degree murder, arson, assault and battery, and disturbing the peace—all related to domestic violence.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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