Defendant’s request for transcription funding granted


The defendant in a case of sexual assault of a girl has been granted funding by the Superior Court to cover the cost of the transcription of the most recent evidentiary hearing to determine whether the child’s memory is reliable.

Joseph Seman Epina, through assistant public defender Heather M. Zona, asked last Wednesday for funding to cover the cost to transcribe nearly 24 hours of recordings from the case’s most recent evidentiary hearing in August.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho granted Epina’s request for a certified transcript yesterday.

The Commonwealth, represented by chief prosecutor Michelle Harris and assistant attorney general Teri Tenorio, did not oppose the motion.

Both parties believed that a transcript would aid them and the court in addressing the memory taint issue.

Epina requested $3,120 from the Superior Court to cover the costs of an official transcription.

Zona said they received two estimates for written transcription from West Pacific Litigation Support. She said one estimate is for $3,087, while the other is for $3,115.

Zona said that West Pacific could prepare the transcripts within 30 to 35 days.

Last March, Camacho held a hearing to determine whether the memory of the child remains reliable after allegedly being subjected to suggestive and coercive police interview techniques.

During the evidentiary hearing, an expert testimony from the May 2017 motion hearing from child psychology, memory science, and forensic interviewing Dr. Wendy Bourg was incorporated.

Bourg’s testified that she could not say whether the girl’s memory was in fact tainted, but circumstances which lead to memory contamination were present.

Camacho said at the evidentiary hearing in the case against Epina on the issue of memory taint, the government has the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the girl retains sufficient personal knowledge to satisfy Commonwealth Rule of Evidence 602 and be able to testify about the events.

Epina, 43, is facing charges of allegedly raping a then-12-year-old girl on Saipan in March 2016. The girl told police that it was not the first time that Epina sexually assaulted her.

The OAG charged Epina with sexual assault of a minor in the first degree, assault and battery, and disturbing the peace.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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