Guam – After more than five years since the collapse of a prostitution ring at the now closed Blue House lounge, two police officers involved in the case, David Manila and Anthony Quenga, will finally be taken to trial.
Superior Court Judge Anita Sukola announced today that jury selection will begin Wednesday, June 19, at 1 pm. Quenga, Manila and the former bar owner, Song Ja Cha, are facing numerous counts of prostitution and criminal sexual conduct charges. Because the police officers asserted their rights to a speedy trial, Sukola prioritized their cases to take to trial immediately.
The decision to go to trial comes in the wake of a Supreme Court decision to deny a writ of mandate filed by Quenga who claimed his speedy trial rights were violated.
“This court finds that it is not precluded from moving forward with jury selection and trial with this matter. For that reason we now begin our pretrial conference,” announced Sukola.
Judge Sukola went over a pre-trial list with the parties in court. Defense attorneys Sylvia Stakes for Quenga and Terry Timblin for Manila expressed some concerns over their preparedness for trial. Both were just appointed to represent their respective clients recently after a number of other lawyers pulled out from the case for various reasons.
Stakes had filed a motion minutes before the pre-trial hearing asking the court for an extension of 10 days to review the case she had just inherited in the last few days.
“Ms. Stakes, the court is going to deny your motion … when a court appoints an attorney to a case, that attorney has five days from the day of appointment to prepare for trial, especially in light of an attorney’s assertion of speedy trial which your client, ma’am, continues to assert,” stated Sukola.
All three attorneys in the Blue House case were asked to calculate how long they may take in presenting their cases for trial. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Quan, lead prosecutor for the case, indicated that based on the number of witnesses he may call to the stand, he expects his presentation to take about two weeks. Timblin says his cross examination could take an additional week. However, Stakes indicated that it’s difficult for her at this point to quantify how much time she will need, given that Judge Sukola denied her motion to extend.
“At this point I don’t have any witnesses yet. I have not had the time, as you can tell from my motion that you had denied, that I have not really conferred with my client as far as his defense is concerned. I’ve gone over the materials and the cds. I still have some discrepancies with discovery which I think prosecution is going to work out,” noted Stakes.
She estimated, however, that based on the number of witnesses called to the stand, her cross examination could take an additional week.
Sukola says a total of 82 witnesses have been identified, 32 of whom were called by the prosecution. Out of that number, Quan says he may only call up to 20 of those witnesses. The witnesses will include law enforcement officers, former Blue House employees, investigators and friends and family members of the defendants.
Officer Manila has previously testified in the federal trial of Cha that he had sex with a Blue House employee. In that federal trial, Cha was found guilty of numrous human trafficking charges and sentenced to life in federal prison.