Talks on what to do with Epina’s case continues

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Talks continue whether or not to dismiss with prejudice the charges against a man who allegedly sexually abused a minor.

During a status conference for Joseph Seman Epina last week, a resolution was not reached and a decision has yet to be made whether the charges against him are to be dismissed or not.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho set another status conference for April 24 to continue the discussion.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, the 45-year-old Epina was charged with sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and disturbing the peace. He allegedly sexually abused a 12-year-old girl on March 12, 2016.

The victim has since left the island.

Epina’s lawyer, assistant public defender Heather M. Zona, said that Epina has been waiting for nearly three years in jail for his case to be resolved. As a result, Epina and his family have suffered greatly, she said.

When Super Typhoon Yutu hit Saipan last October, Epina was in jail and could not help his family prepare for the typhoon or work on the house., Zona said.

Zona asserted that a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to a speedy trial under both the CNMI and the U.S. constitutions.

She said dismissal is appropriate because the government is responsible for this substantial and unwarranted delay.

However, Office of the Attorney General’s Chester Hinds, who recently took over the case, argued last Wednesday that the delay was due to the numerous motions filed by the defense.

Kimberly Bautista | 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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