Fabia: it’s finally over


Eduardo Fabia responds to reporters’ questions outside the courtroom of Superior Court Associate Judge Wesley Bogdan, soon after being acquitted of all charges last Friday. (KIMBERLY BAUTISTA)

The conclusion of the five-day jury trial for an Artman garbage truck driver who was facing homicide charges for a fatal car accident back in February 2021 was an emotional one, with Eduardo Fabia immediately bursting into tears after the verdict acquitting him of all charges was announced.

Fabia, 50, walked out of Superior Court Associate Judge Wesley Bogdan’s courtroom last Friday with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face after he was found not guilty of one count of homicide by vehicle and one count of failure to obey a traffic signal.
In a brief statement from an overjoyed Fabia following the court proceedings, he said he is just grateful it’s over. “I am so thankful because it’s finally over. This problem I’ve been facing for so long is finally over,” he said.

Joining Fabia throughout the course of the trial were his friends, family, and his employer.
Fabia’s lawyers, Office of the Public Defender’s Vina Seelam and JP Nogues, declined to comment following the proceedings.

Office of the Attorney General’s Steve Kessell, who led the prosecution, stated that he is thankful to the jury who did their job in weighing the evidence placed before them and coming to a conclusion in this case.

“We would like to thank the jury for its service. They are a vital part of the system. We put the matter before the jury, the jury did its job and we just thank them for their service,” he said.
The fatal car accident, which happened at an intersection in Puerto Rico on Saipan, claimed the life of Raju Bhai.

During the closing arguments last Friday, Kessell urged the jury to look at the evidence laid out in front of them and to listen closely to the testimonies of the witnesses and to determine that Fabia indeed ran a red light and because of his failure to stop, crashed into the Honda Ridgeline and killed Raju.

In her closing arguments, Seelam urged the jury to not only listen to the inconsistency of the witness testimonies and how it changed over the year, but to also look at the video surveillance that showed no red light or green light before the crash.

Seelam also stated that what has remained consistent over the months that have passed since the accident was Fabia’s statement.

“Fabia and Cristopher Lucero’s testimonies have remained consistent over the year. They may have made a mistake regarding which lane they were in prior to the crash, but their stories have remained the same,” she said.

In addition, Seelam reiterated that the crash did not cause the death of Bhai. Instead, it was because the driver of the Honda Ridgeline, Quin Manglona, had not followed CNMI traffic laws that prohibit passengers from sitting in the bed of a truck if there is space in the cab.

In addition, witness testimony also uncovered that Bhai and Rommel Irang, the other passenger on the Honda Ridgeline on the day of the accident, were seated on the bed of the tuck to secure a generator while it was being transported to the marina. Despite this, Seelam said, the driver was never questioned by police or treated like a suspect.

“If Bhai was inside the cab, and he and Irang were not seated on the bed of the truck to secure a generator, Mr. Bhai would still be alive,” she said.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, Irang sustained serious injuries from the collision, while Manglona, did not sustain any injuries. Fabia and Lucero were unscathed.

Fabia was arrested a day after for alleged traffic signal violations, false reports, and homicide by vehicle. DPS officers alleged that Fabia and Lucero lied to police and were at fault in the accident.

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 kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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