Driver in Marpi hit-and- run to be tried as minor

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The Superior Court decided yesterday to try as a minor the 17-year-old male who was allegedly driving the car that hit and killed a 20-year-old woman in Marpi and abandoned her lifeless body on the shoulder of the road.

After a closed-door litigation between the defense and the prosecution that lasted over 30 minutes yesterday, the court decided to try as a juvenile the male suspect accused of hitting Sophia A. Demapan and leaving her lifeless along Route 30 in Marpi and, in doing so, sealed the entire case. This means the case and its proceedings will not be open to the public, not even to family members of the defendant or the deceased.

According to acting chief prosecutor Chester Hinds, it was a sad and unfortunate incident and the Office of the Attorney General will do what they can to find a resolution and do right by both the defendant and the deceased.

“This matter is a juvenile case. The court did order that no information be told about what happened during the hearing at this time. All I can say is that this is a sad and unfortunate incident and we want to just try and get to the best resolution that we can. For now, we are limited to what we can say so we’re just not going to make any further comments,” he said.

Hinds did clarify that they will discuss within their office whether they will petition to transfer the case and have the defendant tried as an adult. “We would need to discuss that with the investigators and also within our office and determine whether this is the kind of case that we would want to transfer,” he said.

During the hearing yesterday, handful of Demapan’s and the defendant’s family members showed up to witness the proceedings. However, because the matter is a juvenile case and a sealed one at that, they were all asked to step out and leave.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Department of Public Safety spokesperson Dre Pangelinan, he explained the process leading up to the arrest and why it took awhile.

Pangelinan said there is a process that DPS has to follow and different factors that needed to come to play before an arrest warrant was signed.

“We do understand that the public was awaiting this, but we do want the public to know that there is a process that we need to undergo and complete before we can execute an arrest warrant.

“The day after the incident, July 28, we had our officers on the scene and they started investigating the case. After the investigation at the scene, we did start questioning witnesses from that incident. The questioning continued for days but from there, we were able to extract information we could use to issue other warrants, one was the warrant authorizing us to take possession of the vehicle. That was another thing we needed to investigate. After the vehicle, we awaited the autopsy on the victim which was done last Friday. After the autopsy, that’s when the warrant was signed. That is when we were officially able to make an arrest,” he said.

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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