Prosecution moves to dismiss child abuse case vs deceased defendant

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The prosecution in the case involving a woman who was charged with child abuse over the death of a 3-year-old child has filed a motion with the Superior Court to dismiss the case because the defendant has already passed away.

Last week, assistant attorney general Coleen St. Clair filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice the child abuse charge against Lana Lynn Limes Fitial who passed away from cancer back on Aug. 3, 2021.

Fitial’s lawyer, assistant public defender Vina Seelam, stated that she learned on May 28, 2021 that the defendant had been diagnosed with stage IV oral cancer.

On June 1, 2021, Seelam said she received a letter from an oncologist, Dr. Peter Brett, indicating that he would be referring Fitial for surgery and radiation treatment in Los Angeles within the next few weeks.

Based on this information, the parties agreed that the jury trial and all associated dates should be vacated.

Fitial, 45, was one of two women who were arrested following the death of the 3-year-old boy in March 2020. Fitial’s partner, Stacey Laniyo, 37, is the other defendant in the case. Fitial and Laniyo were charged with one count of child abuse each.

The boy was an adopted son of Fitial and was in the care of Laniyo.

According to court documents, Fitial failed to provide medical care for the boy resulting in his death.

As for Laniyo, she was found guilty of hitting the boy—either with a tree branch, a broom, or her hand—or of biting him, resulting in injury clearly beyond the scope of reasonable corporal punishment and harming or threatening the child’s physical or mental health and well-being.

Back in June this year, Laniyo was found guilty of one count of child abuse by a jury and was remanded to the custody of the Department of Correction following the issuance of the jury’s verdict.

Laniyo, through attorney Mark Scoggins, filed a motion for a new trial back on July 1, alleging that she did not receive a fair trial because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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