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Back Local News Supreme Court affirms decision not to modify Manila’s bail

Supreme Court affirms decision not to modify Manila’s bail

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THE Guam Supreme Court has affirmed the trial court's decision to deny Police Officer David Q. Manila’s third motion to modify his bail conditions.

In a five-page order penned by Supreme Court Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido, Associate Justice Robert J. Torres and Associate Justice Katherine A. Maraman, the higher court ruled that Superior Court Judge Anita Sukola did not commit an error of judgment nor did the court abuse its discretion when it denied Manila’s third motion to modify his bail conditions.

Manila was indicted with two other police officers – Mario L. Laxamana and Anthony T. Quenga – along with Blue House owner Song Ja Cha. Laxamana has signed a plea agreement and has agreed to testify against his co-defendants.

Manila, who is currently in jail pending the posting of $250,000 cash bail, filed his first motion to modify bail conditions on Nov. 19, 2012; however, this was denied by the trial court on Nov. 23, 2012.

He filed a second motion to modify bail conditions on Dec. 3, 2012 which the trial court again denied on Jan. 3. Manila attempted to appeal these denials on May 8 but the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals for lack of jurisdiction because the appeals were untimely.

On May 30, Manila filed the third motion to modify his bail conditions but the trial court denied it on June 3. Manila subsequently appealed the decision before the Supreme Court.

When Judge Sukola denied Manila's third motion, the trial court found there were no changed circumstances to warrant a modification of its earlier bail determination of $250,000.

Factors

The trial court went through the factors it used when it originally determined the bail and found that “the seriousness of the charges coupled with the apparent possibility of conviction and likely sentence” remained a concern to the trial court.

The trial court was also “extremely concerned with the safety of others involved in the case” and that it “rests its decision on that consideration.”

Manila asserted in his appeal that the trial court found him not to be a flight risk and that the alleged victims’ claims in the Blue House case – that they are fearful of the defendants – are mere hearsay and questionable.

The police officer further argued there is no evidence that he ever harmed, threatened or harassed the alleged victims.

However, the court found that the defendant failed to provide basis that the circumstances had changed and that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied the defendant’s third motion to modify bail conditions, the justices said.

Manila will be back in Judge Sukola's courtroom on July 29 for jury selection.

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