High court affirms Aldan’s sexual assault conviction
The CNMI Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction and sentence of John Santos Aldan on the twin charges of sexual assault in the first degree and disturbing the peace but vacated the trial court’s denial of his eligibility for parole.
In its opinion in Commonwealth v. John Santos Aldan that the high court issued on Sept. 14, 2020, the high court agreed that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the DNA evidence, but held that the error was harmless because there existed substantial independent evidence of Aldan’s guilt.
Aldan was convicted by a jury of sexual assault in the first degree and disturbing the peace.
Aldan argued that DNA evidence was wrongly admitted under NMI Rule of Evidence 702(d) because it used an inapplicable database of U.S. mainland DNA samples. The high court pointed out that there existed substantial independent evidence of Aldan’s guilt. This included the victim’s injuries, which were consistent with her testimony, as well as physical evidence found in Aldan’s truck.
Aldan also argued that his sentence was mechanically imposed and insufficiently individualized, and that the court erred in not justifying its denial of his eligibility for parole. The high court affirmed the sentence but vacated the denial of parole eligibility because the trial court did not provide reasons.
The high court’s full opinion is available at https://cnmilaw.org/, 2020 MP 20. (PR)