Cyberstalking suspect kept detained pending trial


U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy granted yesterday the U.S. government’s motion for the continued detention of Brian T. Palacios, who is facing a charge of cyberstalking.

Kennedy said there is clear and convincing evidence that no combination of conditions will assure the safety of other persons and the community if Palacios is released pending trial.

Kennedy said the nature and circumstances of the offense include threats of violence against specific persons, including the suspect’s relatives living within a mile of his residence.

The judge said the weight of the evidence includes Facebook posts and a confession, as well as Palacios’ history and character, which include a conviction of riot.

Kennedy noted that Palacios has a history of alcohol abuse, with two convictions for driving while under the influence.

Kennedy also pointed out that the suspect has no recent history of regular employment.

The judge also considered the nature and seriousness of the danger to the witnesses in the case.

Palacios’ court-appointed counsel, Steven Pixley, noted that the motion for protective order was not addressed but Kennedy said she will allow Pixley to respond in writing and will either set the matter for a hearing or that she will just rule on the motion and not set a date for a hearing at this time.

Palacios was later remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal.

Special assistant U.S. attorney Mohammad Khatib appeared via telephone on behalf of the U.S. government.

In the U.S. government’s motion for protective order, Khatib said the documentary evidence contains large quantity of privacy-protected information that would be difficult or time-consuming to redact.

According to the indictment, between April 19 and Sept. 15, 2015, Palacios used the Internet to harass and threaten the victim, placing that person and the spouse in fear of death and of serious bodily injury and causing emotional distress to the victim and the victim’s spouse.

Palacios pleaded not guilty to cyberstalking, the first such criminal case filed in the CNMI. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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