Michael Anthony Jackson, a man facing retrial on charges of kidnapping and raping a then-15-year-old girl on Saipan, has hired former lawmaker Christopher Leon Guerrero as his investigator.
Attorney Loren Sutton, court-appointed counsel for Jackson, has informed the Superior Court that Leon Guerrero has been working for two weeks now as their investigator following the court’s approval of defendant’s request to hire an investigator for the defense.
Leon Guerrero used to serve as a House representative. He is also a retired police officer.
Sutton also informed the court that they are not prepared yet to submit jury instructions.
The lawyer said he, however, reviewed the instructions submitted by the Office of the Attorney General and that at this point, given the incomplete knowledge and analysis of the facts of the case to date, has no objection to them.
Sutton requested the court to provide additional time for any objections and/or additions to the instructions submitted until the defense has interviewed witnesses and further analyzed the facts.
The retrial of Jackson will be on Aug. 22, 2016.
Sutton is the new counsel for Jackson after the defendant filed a disciplinary complaint against his eighth court-appointed counsel Mun Su Park.
At a status conference last March 1, Park requested the court to continue the retrial of Jackson and appoint a new counsel for the defendant.
According to Park, Jackson has filed a disciplinary complaint against him before the CNMI Bar Disciplinary Committee, which is likely to impair the client-lawyer relationship or the lawyer’s ability to represent the client.
Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho granted Park’s motion.
Camacho noted that Jackson had filed disciplinary complaint against his seven other court-appointed counsels in this case.
On April 26, 2013, the jury found Jackson guilty of kidnapping and sexual assault in the first degree. Camacho, who decided on the misdemeanor charge, also found the defendant guilty of assault.
On May 15, 2013, Camacho slapped the then-34-year-old Jackson with a jail maximum term of 40 years and six months without possibility of parole.
Jackson then appealed. He asked the CNMI high court to reverse his convictions and remand the matter for a new trial, or in the alternative for re-sentencing.
At the appeal hearing, Park argued as court-appointed counsel for Jackson.
Last Dec. 30, the CNMI Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded Jackson’s case to Superior Court for a new trial.
The justices ruled that Camacho erred in not repeating substantive jury instructions at the close of evidence.
The justices said closing instructions allow the jury to focus on the law, the evidence, and its responsibilities in order to arrive at a proper determination.
Police said the girl was walking along Tun Joaquin Doi Road in Fina Sisu from an Internet café and was on her way home on Oct. 9, 2010, at about 1am when Jackson forced her into his car, brought her to an open field at Saipan airport, and raped her inside his car. He then forced the girl to smoke methamphetamine or “ice.”
The girl later managed to run away, police said.