Judge to Decide Whether to Grant Agababa’s Request for Expert Witness

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Meanwhile, the prosecution says they want to expand on the testimony Guam Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola’s provided in Allan Agababa’s first trial.

Guam – Another potential delay is likely in the Agababa murder trial. The prosecution may try to come up with new theories or strategies for their case on why and how they believe Allan Agababa killed his own mother. But the defense says if that’s the case then the court should approve their request for a defense expert; otherwise the defense says the case should just be dismissed.

 

Defense Atty. Curtis Van De Veld wants the court to either pay for a defense expert who would counter the autopsy report provided by Guam Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola or for the only evidence to be presented in Allan Agababa’s next trial to be the exact same evidence and testimony that was presented in Agababa’s first trial. The problem is, Van De Veld says his request to to increase the $1,500 price tag for the first defense expert, Dr. Joseph Cohen, was denied by the administrator of the courts. Van De Veld informed Judge Maria Cenzon that the amount Dr. Cohen had quoted to testify for a second time was $4,800.

“It seems to me that the $1,500 limitation is so patently ridiculous to apply because of the fact that there is no other forensic pathologist, medical examiner on Guam,” said Van De Veld.

If neither of Van De Veld’s requests for a paid defense expert or for testimony to be limited to that which is contained in Agababa’s first trial are approved, the defense attorney says the case should just be dismissed. This is the second time Agababa will be tried for the murder of his mother. His first trial ended in mistrial because of a hung jury.

The prosecution, meanwhile, says they would prefer to have Dr. Espinola testify on the witness stand again. In fact, prosecutor Jeremiah Luther says they may present new evidence.

“We plan to expand upon the answers that Dr. Espinola gave during the first trial. It would be a little bit ignorant of us to just rest on that. His evaluation of the case may have changed slightly so we intend to present possibly new evidence in this case and Mr. Van De Veld will be made aware of that,” explained Luther.

This caught Van De Veld and Judge Maria Cenzon by surprise, both of whom pointed out that only now they’re finding out about potential new evidence even after a scheduling order had been issued and the cut off for discovery to be submitted had already passed.

“Let me be absolutey clear, your honor. There is no discovery right now at this point that I have that Mr. Van De Veld does not have,” clarified Luther.

Van De Veld didn’t seem satisfied with Luther’s clarification. “They’re having conversations and Mr. Luther is suggesting to him alternate theories but that’s not coming to me in discovery. I’m kind of sandbagged by that process.”

Judge Maria Cenzon says she will consider both motions filed by the prosecution and the defense and will decide whether to grant the defense’s request for an expert witness and therefore continue trial to a later date or limit the testimony to what was presented in the first trial and proceed with the current schedule of jury selected next week.

The parties are due back in court Thursday, September 15 at 11 am.