The jury trial of an Artman garbage truck driver accused of killing a man in a fatal car accident last year concluded the fourth and final day of arguments with the defense seeking the acquittal of the defendant on all charges.
After resting its case, the defense, through Office of the Public Defender’s Vina Seelam, made a motion outside the presence of the jury to acquit Eduardo Fabia, 50, of all charges filed against him, including reckless driving, traffic signal violations, and homicide by vehicle.
“At this time, we would like to make a motion for a judgment of acquittal as to all counts of the information,” she said.
Office of the Attorney General’s Steve Kessell argued that, by making this motion, the defense is taking the responsibility away from the jury to take all the evidence presented into account and making a decision based on the evidence and testimonies.
Superior Court Associate Judge Wesley Bogdan took the motion under advisement and said the court would reconvene today at 8:30am.
Seelam, during her oral motion, explained that the court has heard throughout the course of the four-day trial enough testimonies from witnesses saying that the traffic light was green when Fabia’s truck passed through the intersection on the day of the accident, Feb 1, 2021.
“A few have said that the light was red and several others said were green. The question that the court is faced with now, in addressing the motion for judgment of acquittal, is whether any reasonable juror or jury, after hearing the evidence presented, could find Mr. Fabia guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the answer to that is no, because of how high the standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ is. Throughout the trial we had the opportunity to hear from several witnesses who, under oath, testified that the light going southbound for Fabia was green before he entered the intersection,” she said.
The defense referenced testimony made by Fabia himself, his companion, Cristopher Lucero, and others who were also driving through the same intersection at the time of the accident, Jonathan Broncan and Wilfredo Lubinal.
Seelam said the court has also seen video evidence and photo evidence that proved that the light was green right after Fabia’s truck passed through the intersection and collided with the Honda Ridgeline.
The lawyer also argued that there was no clear surveillance footage presented that could answer what color the southbound light was or what color the northbound left turn traffic light was.
“What we’re left with is reasonable doubt. No reasonable juror can find, based on the evidence and testimonies heard, that they are convinced that they have an abiding conviction that the light Fabia passed through prior to the collision, was red. That is simply not possible. For that reason, I would ask the court to enter to order a judgment of dismissal of count 3,” she said.
Using the same arguments, Seelam said the court should dismiss the charges of homicide by vehicle because for the jury to find Fabia guilty of homicide by vehicle, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of at least one of the traffic violations, either traffic light violation or reckless driving.
However, Seelam said no evidence was presented to support the charge of reckless driving.
Lastly, Seelam said, the jury must also find that Fabia’s action of running through the red light was the proximate cause of the death of Raju Bhai.
“Not cause of the accident, but the cause of death,” she said.
Seelam argued that it has been undisputed that the victim was sitting in the bed of the truck holding a generator and it was the ejection from the pickup truck at the time the collision occurred, and the injury from the ejection, that caused the victim’s death.
The Honda Ridgeline driver, Quin Manglona, testified himself that the only injury he sustained was a gash on his head.
“That would lead any reasonable juror to believe that if the victim has been inside the cab, like the law says he should have been, and he was not being used to secure a generator, he would have been alive,” Seelam said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, the collision that took place last February 2021 killed Raju Bhai. His companion on the truck bed, Rommel Irang, sustained serious injuries. Fabia and Lucero were unscathed in the accident.
Fabia was arrested a day after for traffic signal violations, false reports, and homicide by vehicle. DPS officers allege that Fabia and Lucero lied to police and were at fault in the accident.