Man, 68, acquitted for beating up longtime friend

A 68-year-old man was acquitted on Tuesday on charges that he beat up his 62-year-old long-time friend and business partner at the latter’s residence in Chalan Lau Lau.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho adjudged Timothy Peter Baker not guilty of assault and battery, and disturbing the peace charges.

In granting defense counsel Jose Mafnas Jr.’s motion for judgment of acquittal, Camacho found that the government has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Baker committed the offenses.

Camacho said the law allows a person to defend himself from an initial aggressor, which is the essence of self-defense.

The judge determined that the alleged victim, Danilo Asuncion, initiated the fight when he “chest bumped” Baker.

He said Asuncion would have been within his rights to call the police and have Baker removed from his property.

“Because Mr. Asuncion was not in immediate danger, Mr. Asuncion did not have the right to take the law into his hands and initiate the fight,” Camacho pointed out.

The judge, however, noted that he finds the testimony of Asuncion credible.

Asuncion testified that he has known Baker for years and that both of them are business partners.

Asuncion said that on Oct. 16, 2017, Baker came to his house located behind Ink Box on Chalan Pale Arnold Road in Chalan Laulau, Saipan.

Asuncion said while discussing business matters with Baker, the discussion escalated into their shouting match with strong profanity used.

Camacho said at some point the two elderly men stood face to face, in which Asuncion was the initial aggressor when he used his chest to bump Baker.

Camacho said Baker responded by hitting Asuncion with a plastic cup and the two started fighting.

The judge said Baker, perhaps being bigger in size, got the better of Asuncion.

Asuncion received minor injuries such as scratches and bruises to his face, neck, chest, ribs, and stomach area.

Camacho said the fight between the two ended when Asuncion grabbed a knife and told Baker to back off.

Baker backed off and Asuncion put the knife away. The fight ended.

Camacho said Asuncion had a cellphone, which could have been used to call the police before the fight happened.

Asuncion testified that he had a cell phone, which he used to call 911 after Baker‘s attack.

A police officer testified that he responded to the scene and observed injuries on Asuncion, but Baker had no injuries.

The officer said he then arrested Baker, who stated that he and Asuncion were talking about their boat, and that Asunscion got angry, and an altercation ensued.

The bench trial commenced Monday.

Assistant attorney general Jonathan Wilberscheid, counsel for the government, called to the witness stand Asuncion, three police officers, a Commonwealth Health Center doctor, and an emergency medical technician.

After the last witness, Asuncion, completed his testimony, defense counsel Mafnas moved to acquit Baker.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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