BREAKING NEWS: CNMI Supreme Court affirms convictions of Crisostomo over the rape, killing of Romero

The CNMI Supreme Court has affirmed the convictions of notorious habitual offender Joseph Acosta Crisostomo who was slapped with a life sentence for the kidnapping, raping, and killing of bartender Emerita R. Romero.

In a 39-page opinion issued today, Friday, the high court justices said even after omitting the errors in Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho’s rulings in the case, numerous evidence remains.

“We find sufficiently strong, unrefuted evidence supporting Crisostomo’s conviction, and are unable to say, even when taken together, that it is more probable than not that the errors materially affected the verdict. We decline to reverse for cumulative error,” said the Supreme Court’s opinion penned by Associate Justice John A. Manglona and concurred by Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro and Associate Justice Perry B. Inos.

Crisostomo, through counsel Janet H. King, appealed his convictions, asking the high court to reverse the jury’s verdict and remand this case for a new trial based on alleged multiple abuses of Judge Camacho’s discretion and constitutional violations.

Camacho presided over the trial and decided the misdemeanor charges. He found the defendant guilty of assault and battery, and disturbing the peace.

On April 24, 2014, the jury reached a guilty verdict against the then-40-year-old Crisostomo as to the charges of first degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault in the first degree, and robbery.

On May 28, 2014, Camacho sentenced Crisostomo to life imprisonment.

Romero, 37, was last seen boarding a car near her house in Garapan in the early morning of Feb. 5, 2012. She was supposed to meet her boyfriend in Chalan Piao. Two days later, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents found her body in a small bathroom at the abandoned La Fiesta Mall in San Roque/As Matuis. Autopsy revealed she was beaten and strangled with a pair of leggings.

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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