Man in rape case is seeking testimony of expert witness

A 43-year-old man who is facing charges of raping a 12-year-old girl is requesting the Superior Court to give him funds so his expert witness from Oregon can come to Saipan and testify.
Otherwise, Joseph Seman Epina is asking the court to allow his expert witness, Dr. Wendy Bourg, to testify via Skype or any other video conferencing technology.

Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho will hear the matter on Wednesday at 9am.

According to Epina’s lawyer, assistant public defender Cindy Nesbit, the Office of the Public Defender does not have funds of its own to secure the presence of expert witnesses, so if the court requires Bourg to be physically present, money will need to be secured for her flight and lodging while on Saipan.

Epina’s trial will commence on Jan. 23, 2017.

Nesbit said she only recently spoke with Bourg and determined that her testimony will be necessary at trial.

Nesbit said testimony by Skype would save a tremendous amount of resources and would not prejudice Epina’s right to confrontation because Bourg is expected to testify on his behalf.

Nesbit said Epina is indigent and cannot afford to secure the doctor’s presence in court.

Further, the defense lawyer pointed out, failure to either provide funding for Bourg’s flight and accommodations or, alternatively, to allow her testimony via video conferencing, would prejudice Epina’s due process right.

Nesbit said denial of funding for in-person testimony or testimony by Skype or other video conferencing would also adversely affect Epina’s right to present witnesses and his right to compulsory process.

Police claimed that Epina sexually assaulted the girl who was sleeping at a relative’s house last March. Police investigation started after receiving a complaint from a Division of Youth Services personnel about a student who was sexually assaulted.

The girl told police that it was not the first time that Epina sexually assaulted her.

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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