Kaipat is found mentally incompetent


U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has found habitual offender Cling Philip Kaipat to be mentally incompetent to understand court proceedings.

Kaipat is facing charges in federal court for possession of a gun and ammunition that he stole from the house of Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo.

Manglona issued the finding after reviewing all the evidence and hearing all the arguments of the parties’ counsel.

Manglona committed Kaipat to the custody of the attorney general where he shall be hospitalized for treatment not to exceed four months.

The judge said it is necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability that in the future that Kaipat will attain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward, and for an additional period of time until his mental is so improved that trial may proceed.

Last Feb. 23, the U.S. government filed a motion for a psychiatric examination to determine Kaipat’s competency.

Last March 9, the court granted the motion and issued an order for psychiatric or psychological examination of Kaipat.

Kaipat was then remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and transferred to the Federal Detention Center in Seatac, Washington to determine his mental competency.

Last July 5, the court received a forensic evaluation of Kaipat.

After a series of continuances, the competency hearing was eventually heard last Oct. 14. Assistant U.S. attorney Russell Lorfing appeared for the government. Kaipat appeared with court-appointed counsel Colin Thompson.

Lorfing called three witnesses: two Department of Corrections officers and examining forensic psychologist Dr. Ryan Nybo.

The two DOC officers testified about their observations of Kaipat before he was sent off-island for his examination, which was from November 2015 to early May 2016.

The DOC officers noted the drastic change in Kaipat from being able to communicate coherently with them and interact with the other inmates, to becoming reclusive and rejecting any food, medicine, and water.

Nybo listened to the two DOC officers’ testimonies via telephone.

Manglona said based on all the evidence presented, Nybo could not render an opinion that Kaipat was competent.

Manglona said this was contrary to Nybo’s prior conclusion that Kaipat “demonstrated sufficient ability to understand the nature and consequences of the court proceedings against him, and a sufficient ability to properly assist counsel in his defense” as was detailed in his report dated June 27, 2016.

In his report, Nybo stated that, “given the defendant’s history of psychosis and associated disorganized and erratic behavior, it is imperative he remain on antipsychotic medication to ensure his current level of stability.”

Unfortunately, Manglona said, the clear and convincing evidence received at the hearing indicate that since his return to the island, Kaipat has not been taking his medications which has resulted in him exhibiting erratic behavior.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the U.S. government recommended and counsel for defendant concurred that the evidence supports a finding that the defendant is not legally competent.

The indictment charged the 19-year-old Kaipat in federal court with possession of a stolen firearm and possession of ammunition. Kaipat also allegedly possessed a stolen hollow point 9mm round of ammunition.

Kaipat was also charged in local court with burglary, theft, and criminal mischief over the break-in at Govendo’s house.

Govendo was off-island when the burglary happened.

Detectives recovered the judge’s police-issued 9mm pistol.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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