Man who stole Govendo’s gun mentally incompetent to proceed with sentencing


U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona on Friday found mentally incompetent to proceed with the sentencing a habitual offender who pleaded guilty for stealing a gun during a burglary at the house of Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo.

Manglona committed defendant Cling Philip Kaipat to the custody of the U.S. Attorney General who shall hospitalize him for treatment in a facility for an additional time until his mental condition is so improved that sentencing may proceed.

At a competency hearing last Friday, forensic psychologist Dr. Lesli Johnson and Kaipat appeared in absentia.

The court received into evidence last July 21 the forensic evaluation prepared by Johnson and reviewed by Dr. Lisa Hope.

Manglona said based on a review of the evaluation and an update from Johnson, and the parties’ recommendations, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that Kaipat is presently mentally incompetent.

Therefore, Manglona said, Kaipat is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.

Last April 11, Manglona held a status conference with the parties to discuss whether Kaipat was competent to proceed with sentencing.

The judge then ordered that defendant receive a psychiatric or psychological examination. The defendant was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals, and transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center for the examination.

At last Friday’s competency hearing, assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe appeared for the U.S. government, while Colin Thompson served as the court-appointed counsel for Kaipat. Forensic psychologist Dr. Johnson participated at the hearing telephonically.

Last April 11, Manglona ordered for another psychiatric or psychological examination of Kaipat, who was supposed to be sentenced for possession of a gun that was stolen from Govendo’s house.

The sentencing has been postponed several times because of Kaipat’s erratic behavior being observed at the Department of Corrections.

In March 2016, Manglona granted the U.S. government’s motion for a psychiatric examination to determine Kaipat’s competency to understand court proceedings.

In October 2016, Manglona has found defendant to be mentally incompetent to understand court proceedings.

Kaipat was then committed to the custody of the U.S. attorney general and was hospitalized for treatment. He was later found to be competent to understand proceedings.

In November 2017, Kaipat pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of a stolen firearm.

According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, on Nov. 5, 2015, Kaipat possessed a stolen a 9mm Smith and Wesson pistol.

Kaipat knew the pistol was stolen because he was the one who stole it while burglarizing Govendo’s home on Saipan.

In that burglary, he also stole a watch, a hunting knife, and $500 in U.S. currency. Govendo was off-island when the burglary happened.

In the Superior Court case, Kaipat also pleaded guilty to burglary and theft as part of a plea deal. In November 2016, Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio sentenced him to a total of six years in prison.

The six-year prison sentence, however, will run concurrently with the sentence in Kaipat’s conviction in federal court’s case. It means that he will serve the six years in prison within whatever jail term the District Court will impose on him.

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

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