Supreme Court Affirms Sexual Assault Conviction of Duane Diego

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Guam – The Supreme Court has affirmed the Superior Court’s judgement in People v. Diego.  The case involves a sexual assault that occurred 6 years ago.

Former tour bus driver Duane Diego was convicted of sexually assaulting a Japanese tourist in August of 2007.  According to the testimony at trial,  Diego offered the woman a ride from McDonalds back to her hotel in Tumon on his empty bus.  The woman accepted the accepted the ride but Diego drove her to the parking lot of a different hotel, sexually assaulted her, and then returned her to the vicinity of her hotel.

READ the Opinion in People v. Diego HERE

10 days later, the woman identified Diego from a photo array containing the pictures of six men.  Whoever, 3 years later she could not identify Diego seated in the courtroom while she was on the witness stand .

Diego appealed arguing that the admission of the photo array into evidence was improper,  that  the jury was incorrectly instructed on the kidnapping charges, and that the trial court erroneously denied his motion to acquit.

However Deigo’s appeal has been rejected in an opinion authored by Justice Robert Torres and joined by Chief Justice Philip Carbullido and Justice Katherine Maraman.

The court found the photo array was not unduly suggestive; and the court determined the jury instructions were free from error because the language in the jury instructions mirrored the language of the statute.  In addition, the Justice found that sufficient evidence existed for a rational trier of fact to have found the facts necessary to convict Diego, despite the victim’s inability to identify him while she was on the witness stand, 3 years after the assault.

READ the release from the Guam Judiciary below: 

SUPREME COURT OPINION ISSUED: PEOPLE v. DIEGO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 15, 2013 –The Supreme Court of Guam, in an opinion authored by Justice Robert J. Torres and joined by Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido and Justice Katherine A. Maraman, affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court of Guam in the case of People v. Diego, 2013 Guam 15.

On August 12, 2007, the Plaintiff – Appellee People of Guam claim Defendant – Appellant Duane Diego, a tour bus driver, offered Japanese student A.M. a ride from McDonalds back to her hotel in Tumon on his empty bus.  A.M. accepted the ride.  Diego drove her to the parking lot of a different hotel, sexually assaulted her, and then returned her to the vicinity of her hotel.  Approximately ten days later, A.M. identified her attacker as Diego from a photo array containing the pictures of six men.  Approximately three years later, she could not identify Diego seated in the courtroom while on the witness stand.  

The jury found Diego guilty on a number of charges including first and second degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, and felonious restraint and sentenced him to twenty years imprisonment.  Diego argued on appeal that the admission of the photo array into evidence was improper, the jury was incorrectly instructed on the kidnapping charges, and the trial court erroneously denied his motion to acquit.  

The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s rulings.  The court found the photo array was not unduly suggestive based upon the procedures and photographs used by police.  Second, the court determined the jury instructions were free from error because the language in the jury instructions mirrored the language of the statute.  Finally, the court held that sufficient evidence existed for a rational trier of fact to have found the facts necessary to convict Diego despite A.M.’s inability to identify him while she was on the witness stand.  Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s rulings.