OAG expert evaluates report on mental state of murder suspect

The CNMI government’s own expert evaluated last week the report on the mental competence of Alfonso Sebastian Parongan, who has been in jail since October 2017 over the killing of his landlord and injuring her husband in Chalan Kanoa.

Assistant attorney general Robert Charles Lee said that Parongan, through his lawyer, was mentally evaluated by Dr. Martin Blinder months ago and that Blinder issued his report on May 19, 2018.

The government’s own expert then evaluated the results of Dr. Blinder’s report, said Lee without disclosing their expert’s evaluation.

Lee discussed briefly the evaluation issue in the government’s response to the Office of the Public Defender’s motion to conduct a speedy trial the case against Parongan.

At a status conference last month, the prosecution informed Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho about the status of Parongan’s mental evaluation issue.

After hearing from the lawyers, Camacho moved the status hearing to Jan. 30, 2019, to allow the Office of the Attorney General’s expert to conduct its mental evaluation on Parongan.

Assistant public defender Nancy Dominski, counsel for Parongan, also filed on that same status conference a one-sentence demand for speedy trial.

“Defendant again renews his demand for a speedy jury trial,” Dominski said.

Lee submitted in court last week a two-page response to the defendant’s motion for a speedy trial.

In the government’s response, Lee said that that demand for speedy trial does not cite any legal authority.

Presumably, Lee said, Parongan is invoking the Sixth Amendment Speedy Trial Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the speedy trial right established in Article 1 of the CNMI Constitution.

Lee said defendant’s requested mental evaluation—and the amount of time it took to complete it—is unquestionably the primary reason for the delay in Parongan’s trial.

He said the amount of time since Parongan’s arrest up to his May 19, 2018, mental evaluation should not be counted when calculating whether Parongan’s right to a speedy trial has been violated.

Lee said the additional delay caused by the second evaluation should also be excluded from this calculation, as this evaluation was necessary based on Blinder’s report.

Parongan, 56, has been in jail since he was arrested shortly after the incident that occurred in October 2017. No bail was imposed because it’s a murder case.

Through his counsel, Parongan asserted last July a plea of not guilty for reason of insanity.

The OAG charged Parongan with first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Police said that Parongan confessed during their interview to smoking methamphetamine and drinking 12 cans of beer on the day of the incident.

The female victim suffered multiple stab wounds, while her husband sustained 12 injuries in different parts of the head and body, police said.

The woman was reportedly trying to collect house rental from Parongan when the two got into an argument in the evening of Oct. 29, 2017. He allegedly stabbed the woman and her husband with a kitchen knife.

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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