OPD wants psychiatrist to testify via Skype

The Office of the Public Defender wants its psychiatric expert, Dr. Martin Blinder, to testify via video conference such as Skype or a similar service at a hearing in a murder case.

Assistant public defender Heather M. Zona, counsel for Alfonso Sebastian Parongan, said that Blinder has been retained to give expert testimony in the case and was listed on Parongan’s witness list.

Blinder is based in California.

Zona said Rule 26 of the Commonwealth Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that “testimony at trials shall be taken orally and in open court unless otherwise provided by an Act of the Commonwealth or a rule adopted by the court.”

Zona said that allowing Blinder to testify via video conference saves the CNMI taxpayers the expense of paying him to come to the CNMI himself.

Heather M. Zona

This, she said, also allows Parongan—an indigent defendant—to retain experts for his defense.

Parongan is being charged 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. He is claiming temporary insanity as his defense. Through his counsel, Parongan has asserted in July 2018 a plea of not guilty for reason of insanity.

Last November, assistant attorney general Robert Lee disclosed to the court that the prosecution’s own expert had already evaluated Parongan.

Police said that Parongan had admitted to being high on drugs and being drunk on the day of the incident.
The woman suffered multiple stab wounds, while her husband sustained 12 injuries in different parts of the head and body.

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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