‘Defense is leading jury to believe that witness lied’


The prosecution in the jury trial of a woman charged with child abuse over the death of a 3-year-old boy claims that the defense is leading the court to believe that one of their key witnesses fabricated her testimony.

A week in, the court has hit a roadblock in the Laniyo trial, with the court having to take a day to hear and take into advisement the arguments of both parties regarding the revelation of a possible inadmissible testimony made by one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, a minor who lived in the home and claimed she witnessed firsthand Laniyo’s abuse.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Coleen St. Clair, argues that defense lawyer Mark Scoggins badgered her witness, confused her, and led the court to believe that she fabricated her testimony.

St. Clair noted that Scoggins’ cross-examination was not to extract the truth but to have the jury believe that the witness had lied on the stand and that she had never mentioned the victim’s split lip to police during her interview. In addition, St. Clair said, the defense went so far as to have the jury question her own credibility by implying that she knew that the statement was inadmissible evidence but used it anyway, and that she made the witness fabricate her testimony on the stand.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho called a recess at nearly 5pm on Wednesday and said he would take the arguments into advisement. The trial resumed yesterday at 8am.

During the sixth day of the trial, Scoggins cross-examined a minor who lived with Laniyo and the 3-year-old boy six months prior to his death, during which she said she didn’t actually see the punch but, instead, heard about it from the victim, who allegedly told her about being punched in the face when he was still alive. The prosecution allegedly went ahead and made her testify about it in court as if she had seen it.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista 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 kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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