ME: Deceased detainee’s cell was wiped clean of blood

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An autopsy on the detainee found dead in his cell last week revealed that he was beaten and that he did not die of natural causes.

Guam – Not only is foul play involved in the death of a prisoner last week, but Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola believes that based on his observations, an attempt was made to destroy evidence of the detainee’s beating.

Today, a press conference was held by the Department of Corrections and the Guam Police Department and while they were unable to provide detailed information as a result of the ongoing death investigation, this is what they had to say:

“The DOC GMH physician and medical staff were immediately called to his cell and [Guam Fire Department] medics were also contacted for assistance. He was given medical attention which after it was determined he was already expired,” explained DOC Director Tony Lamorena.

Manson Ernest, 33, also known as Manson Insar, was found at the Hagatna Lockup in his cell on December 29, 2017 just after 9 a.m. Initial reports from Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola indicated that his death may have been the result of natural causes. However, an autopsy conducted yesterday has proven otherwise and that in fact Ernest’s death was the result of a homicide.

But why did Espinola initially indicate that the death was of natural causes when he was called to the scene?

According to Dr. Espinola, this is because the detainee had a fresh change of clothes on him and the cell he was in was wiped clean of blood. But upon a complete autopsy, Dr. Espinola discovered injuries consistent with a beating, including a contusion to Ernest’s face.

This severe of a beating, Dr. Espinola says, would have involved blood, which was not found inside the cell where corrections officials claim the victim was discovered, or on Ernest’s clothes. Espinola notes that there was evidence that the victim threw up blood during the attack and he adds that Ernest passed away within 8 hours before he was found, leaving plenty of time for the victim to be cleaned up.

In fact, Dr. Espinola says he was told that at one point, five individuals were attacking Ernest all at once. The medical examiner ruled Ernest’s death a homicide and said he died of a crushed chest and lacerated liver.

At the press conference neither GPD nor DOC could comment on Dr. Espinola’s assertions.

“Again, with the regards to the death investigation, it would be difficult to make those assertions. I’m not speaking on behalf of Dr. Espinola. Again, we can not make those kinds of assertions because we are not done with the investigation,” explained Chief of Police J.I. Cruz.

Lamorena added that since the discovery of the detainee’s body, an internal affairs investigation was launched, adding, “interviews continue to be conducted with detainees, officers and staff regarding the circumstances of the incident.”

Meanwhile, on GPD’s side, Chief Cruz states that they are focused on the death investigation.

“An autopsy was conducted yesterday and based on the results of that we believe that the injuries that the detainee did sustain are consistent with an assault on that individual. The details of this investigation I am not able to release because it is an ongoing homicide investigation,” re-iterated Cruz.

They did, however, confirm that the deceased detainee was originally arrested on charges of home invasion and criminal sexual conduct. These charges are related to accusations that Ernest, also known as Insar, raped a woman who had down syndrome.

The victim was positively identified by Dr. Espinola. GPD could not identify the victim pending notification of next of kin. Cruz says they are working with the FSM Consulate Office to locate or notify the victim’s family.

SOURCEJolene Toves
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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.