Prospect of no restitution for Torre angers Piolo family

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“You took my brother’s life, Torre, Jr!”  — Edison Piolo.

Guam – A fiery restitution hearing today for convicted killer Mark Torre Jr. but it’s not what happened inside the courtroom, it’s the tirade that happened outside as Edison Piolo, the victim’s brother, directed his anger at Torre, shouting from across the courthouse.

It’s the first time that Edison Piolo launched a tirade directed at Torre.

“You took my brother’s life! You took my brother’s life, Torre Jr!” Piolo shouted from the atrium of the Superior Court of Guam.

But the grieving brother was only reacting to the possibility that Torre, the former police officer convicted of killing his brother, fellow police officer Sgt. Elbert Piolo, could get away with not having to pay any restitution.

A hearing today for Torre focused on that where his defense attorney, Jay Arriola, disputed some of the claims filed by the Piolo family. These include $13,310 for funeral expenses and $5,650 for catering services for both the funeral and the first year anniversary. Arriola argued that Piolo’s wife, Mika, had already received $10,000 from the criminal injuries compensation fund.

“We would dispute that she’s entitled to a reimbursement, that’s an out of pocket loss–at least for the anniversary, however, we leave for the court’s discretion $1,650 for the initial funeral,” noted Arriola.

But beyond the tangible expenses, such as funeral and medical costs, is the issue of economic loss. What is the value of Bert Piolo’s life? While no life can ever be quantified through money, at least for the income Bert Piolo could have earned, Prosecutor Phil Tydingco was able to produce a number—a conservative one at that.

“So if you factored that 10 percent in his basic annual, if he had no overtime, no special assignment it would be $54,851.72,” explained Tydingco.

Tydingco pointed out that this is an estimate of Bert Piolo’s base pay and does not factor in the salary he was earning as executive security for the Lt. Governor as well as his second and third incomes as a business owner and musician. Bert’s youngest child was less than a year old at the time of his death.

“So if we use that as sort of the outer parameters of the loss of economic support for the children … then we would submit that the loss of economic support then would be $987,330,96,” said Tydingco. “I don’t think there’s any question that the children are direct victims of the loss of their father.”

Although Judge Michael Bordallo didn’t make any decisions today on restitution, he alluded to the possibility that Guam’s criminal code may not leave him much room to decide. He did, however, touch on the subject of civil damages.

“What [the court] really has to struggle with and really has to come to a decision on is under [Guam law] which is what is allowed under restitution again, please make sure you advise Mr. Piolo and the family that that’s the limit of the court’s jurisdiction here and it’s not meant to–by anything it says to say, ‘This is all you’re entitled to.’ It’s a matter of law. This may be all you’re entitled to as a matter of law under the criminal code and that’s just the limitation for us,” explained Judge Bordallo.

For the Piolo family, it’s another major blow. They’ve been vocal about their sentiments on Torre’s incarceration–or lack thereof–his conviction and his sentencing. And now this: the possibility that he may not have to pay the victims at all. It appears, for Edison Piolo, it was all too much.

“I lost my brother, that’s what it is,” he yelled outside the courtroom. “Life is more valuable than money. You took my brother’s life! You took my brother’s life, Torre Jr! What’s that? Life is more value than that.”

Judge Bordallo took the matter under advisement.