OPD seeks postponement of jury trial


The Office of the Public Defender is asking the Superior Court to postpone the Aug. 26, 2019 jury trial of a defendant in a murder and attempted murder case due to holiday weekend and ongoing negotiations with the prosecution.

Jean Pierre Nogues, counsel for Alfonso Sebastian Parongan, has informed the Superior Court that the Office of the Attorney General does not object to a continuance of the trial and has advised that a trial date in October 2019 would be best for the prosecution.

Nogues requested Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho to continue the trial to the week of Sept. 16 or as soon as practicable after that.

The defense and prosecution anticipate that the trial of Parongan will require more than one week to complete.

Nogues said even if jury selection begins on Aug. 26, they anticipate that the case will overlap the holiday weekend of Saturday, Aug. 31, through Monday, Sept. 2 (Labor Day).

Nogues said the first problem is that one or both parties will be conducting examination of expert witnesses via Skype or other remove means.

He said such experts will be on the U.S. mainland, and the time difference will mean that Saipan court hours on Tuesday, Sept. 3, will still be the holiday on the mainland.

“This may render the experts unavailable,” the defense counsel pointed out.

The second problem, Nogues said, is that the nature of the holiday weekend increases the likelihood of scheduling conflicts for jurors, attorneys and court personnel on the days immediately preceding and following it.

He said at least one defense attorney anticipates being off-island that weekend.

Nogues said third is that he would prefer to avoid the problems that might arise from empaneled jurors having three or four consecutive days off for a holiday weekend in the middle of a high-profile media case.

Nogues also underscored the need for continuance to accommodate ongoing negotiations with the prosecution that may avoid the need for trial.

The OAG charged Parongan with first degree murder, attempted second degree murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon, over the killing of his landlord and injuring the landlord’s husband in Chalan Kanoa in October 2017.

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

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

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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