DAY 3 OF CHILD ABUSE JURY TRIAL

Witness claims police tampered with her statements

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The jury trial of a woman charged with child abuse over the death of a 3-year-old boy entered day three yesterday with the one of the key witnesses claiming that she did not say some of the statements written on police reports that were admitted into evidence.

Lynn Fitial, the co-defendant in Stacey Laniyo’s case and one of the key witnesses called by the CNMI government, claimed that some of the statements taken down by Department of Public Safety investigators that were compiled into a document and entered into evidence during the trial were not her own and she did not sign off on them.

“She mixed up what she wrote. I said a lot of stuff to her but there’s a lot of things in these statements that are not true. Some things that my mom said, she made it seem like I said [them]…she mixed up a lot of things. Some of these [statements] I didn’t see,” she said.

Particularly, the statements that Fitial claims were not hers related to how long the child experienced the symptoms that resulted in his death, witnessing Laniyo’s alleged beatings like biting the child and forcing him to do pushups while he was extremely ill, whether they were going to bring the child to the hospital, and more.

Of the five-page compiled statements, Fitial said she only signed off on four of the pages. She claims the other statements were either added in without her knowledge or were mixed up with statements made by her mother, and other members of the household.

That prompted Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho to excuse the jury, saying he was concerned about the claims and ordered the prosecution to call up the Department of Public Safety to clarify if the allegations were true.

“I’m very concerned because she’s saying that the officer added portions to her statement that she doesn’t know about. I need you to call the officer and confirm that she did not write those statements after she signed off on. I’m having her testify and read her statements, which she may not have given,” he said.

The jury trial is set to resume today.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, the alleged abuse happened in 2020, when Laniyo allegedly hit the child with a tree branch, a broom, or her hand or by biting him.

Laniyo, Fitial’s partner, allegedly admitted spanking the child with a tree branch to discipline him because he was very naughty. She told police that the child was without fear.

Fitial is accused of failing to provide medical care for the child, resulting in his death. Fitial told police that the boy had been ill and was given ibuprofen, which he vomited, before he was observed to have stiffened.

Dr. Philip Dauterman stated that the boy died due to obstruction of the airway due to pharyngitis and tracheitis, contributed by peritonitis due to gastroenteritis. He said the boy’s symptoms, which would have been vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fever, and sore throat, would have been obvious to any reasonable parent or guardian and a cause for concern.

Dauterman said the child was effectively dead when he was brought to the hospital.

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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