Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has recused himself from hearing the motion for a new trial for Stacey Laniyo, a woman who was recently found guilty of child abuse over the death of a 3-year-old boy.
Camacho stated in his recusal order that, although the defense motion for a new trial focuses on the actions and conduct of the prosecutor, he is concerned that there may be a conflict in him vacating the jury’s verdict because one of the jury members is his brother.
“The conflict touches upon this concern: the defendant’s motion for a new trial would require to, in effect, vacate the jury’s verdict,” he said.
Camacho noted in his order that the conflict only arises in the defendant’s motion for a new trial but rest of the case is unaffected.
Camacho returned the matter to Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja for reassignment to another judge on either just the defendant’s motion for a new trial, or the entire case, including the defendant’s motion for a new trial.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, back in June, Laniyo was found guilty by a jury of one count of child abuse but now, she is alleging that she did not receive a fair trial because of prosecutorial misconduct.
On June 24, 2021, Camacho remanded Laniyo to the custody of the Department of Corrections after her conviction.
Laniyo, through her attorney, Mark Scoggins, filed a motion for a new trial last July 1, stating that a new trial is warranted because of what he claimed as the “pervasive, egregious, intentional, unethical, and irresponsible” prosecutorial misconduct that permeated every aspect of the trial, robbing Laniyo of her right to due process under the U.S. and CNMI Constitution.
Laniyo and her partner, Lynn Fitial, were arrested following the death of a 3-year-old boy in March 2020. The boy was the adopted son of Fitial and was in the care of Laniyo.
According to the prosecution, Laniyo hit the boy with a tree branch, a broom, or her hand or by biting him.
As for Fitial, the prosecution said she failed to provide medical care for the boy resulting in his death.