Plea deal for man who staged 3-hour ‘drama’ at store vacated


Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho yesterday vacated a plea agreement that he previously accepted in the case against Alfred Jacob Teregeyo Kaipat, a 30-year-old who allegedly grabbed two machetes from Feng Hua Store in San Jose, threatened to kill his wife, then barricaded himself on the third floor of the store’s building before surrendering himself to police after three hours.

Camacho vacated the plea deal after hearing the arguments by the prosecution and the defense counsel.

The judge said the prosecution and the defense may re-submit another plea agreement.

Camacho set a change of plea hearing on March 1, 2016 at 9am.

On Oct. 28, 2015, Kaipat, who appeared with counsel assistant public defender Tillman Clark, pleaded guilty to the offenses of two counts of violation of protective order and one count of theft.

Camacho accepted Kaipat’s guilty plea and the plea agreement.

Camacho then set the sentencing for Dec. 2, 2015.

At the scheduled Dec. 2, 2015 sentencing hearing, the hearing was postponed because Kaipat was going to serve at least one year.

The judge requested for additional sentencing briefs and continued the sentencing hearing for Feb. 10, 2016.

At the said hearing, assistant attorney general Emily Cohen and assistant public defender Tillman Clark both discovered that they understood that the plea agreement would allow the court to determine the amount of jail to be served, which was in a range between a year and two years.

Camacho understood the terms of the plea agreement to be a recommendation, not binding.

Clark and Cohen explained that there is only a grammatical error in the plea agreement.

The judge then reset the sentencing for yesterday.

In Kaipat’s brief in support of the plea agreement, Clark requested the court to amend the plea deal to correct a grammatical error, continue with the sentencing, and follow the intentions of both parties.

Clark said the plea agreement purports to be submitted pursuant to Rule 11(e)(1)(B), which taken on its face would suggest that the details of the sentence would be a “recommendation” to the judge and not binding, as opposed to Rule 11(e)(1)(C), in which the parties agree to a specific sentence.

Clark said both parties agree that this was a grammatical error.

The defense lawyer also noted that during a lengthy discussion of sentencing guidelines at the Dec. 2 sentencing hearing, Camacho clarified that the continuance of the sentencing date would not prejudice the defendant because the absolute minimum amount of jail he could be sentenced to was one year in prison.

This, Clark said, indicates that Camacho was acting under full awareness of the fact that he had accepted a plea under Rule 11(e)(1)(C) in which he was bound by the language of the agreement and where the absolute minimum Kaipat could serve was one year.

In the government’s brief, assistant attorney general Cohen said Camacho did not inform Kaipat that he had no right to withdraw his plea if the court did not follow the government’s recommendation.

Based on these facts, Cohen said, it seemed apparent to the government that the court interpreted the terms of the plea agreement in the same fashion as the government and the defendant.

Cohen said if the court decides it will not accept the plea agreement with the enumerated terms, the proper remedy is for the court to reject the plea agreement and allow the defendant to withdraw his plea.

According to the factual basis of the plea deal, on July 25, 2015 on Saipan, Kaipat went to his wife Yanyou Kaipat’s store in Dandan, made contact with her, then called her on her phone several hours later, while a court’s protective order prohibiting him from doing so was in place. On that day, he also stole two machetes from Feng Hua Market.

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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