Guam – Jury selection has officially begun in the long overdue Blue House prostitution trial. About 100 potential jurors were brought into the Superior Court today as part of the culling process, but opening arguments aren’t expected to begin until sometime next week.
It has been over five years since the case was cracked open. Today marks the first day of trial, after myriad setbacks, delays and a revolving door of attorneys.
Jury selection began at around 2 pm. Attorneys started with the culling process, which is expected to take about two days. They then move on to voir dire, which is the actual interviewing of potential jurors to determine if they are suitable to sit through the trial. Opening arguments aren’t expected to take place until sometime next week as prosecutors and defense attorneys are sure to take their time in selecting the jury in this high profile case that involves two Guam police officers.
Officers David Manila and Anthony Quenga are facing numerous counts of prostitution and criminal sexual conduct charges. They are accused of having sex with Blue House lounge employees while protecting the lounge owner from prosecution. Finally, the mastermind behind the forced prostitution ring, Song Ja Cha, will be tried separately.
Cha is already serving a life sentence for the very same crime in federal court. Presiding Judge Anita Sukola had earlier insisted that Cha, Manila and Quenga be tried together to save the government money, however, the police officers had initially asserted their rights to a speedy trial while Cha waived hers.
This is not the first time the court had been prepared to go to trial. On June 19 Judge Sukola’s court room was set up with extra chairs for the beginning of what would have been jury selection. But Manila and Quenga, at the very last minute, hastily waived their speedy trial rights, after their newly appointed defense attorneys advised them that they weren’t prepared to proceed with trial. Judge Sukola agreed to give the attorneys about 40 more days, noting that there is a possibility that if found guilty, the police officers could be sentenced to life in prison.