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New twist in manslaughter case

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The death of an aspiring musician last October shocked many in the community. A 24-year-old had gone out with friends for an evening of partying and ended up in a coma on life support that night before passing away a few days later.

Police arrested Isaac Wabol Kaipat, 33, who faces charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault. Kaipat's trial began on Friday, with a new twist to the case being revealed today.

After two days of witnesses' testimony, the prosecution rested its case against Kaipat.  The defense today sought a motion for a directed verdict of not guilty as they contend the evidence against Kaipat isn't consistent with the criminal charges he faces. In October of last year, Kaipat was arrested and charged with the death of Robert Gee Mantanona Blas.

The two had been in an argument that escalated into a physical altercation outside the Club 7 Deuce in Tamuning where Kaipat was employed. In a packed courtroom, witnesses told the jury that Blas exited the club arguing with Kaipat, who followed behind him. Kelly Unsiog testified that she heard Blas saying, "I don't want to fight, that's why I'm leaving." She said that she and others who were in the parking lot that night saw Kaipat use an open palm to hit Blas on his head. 

According to the magistrate's complaint, witnesses told police that Kaipat escorted Blas out of the club and struck him in the head, causing him to fall to the ground. After being in a coma, Blas died less than two days later from a skull fracture and a brain contusion.

But it was medical examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola's autopsy report that has the defense calling for a not guilty verdict against Kaipat. Apparently the autopsy isn't consistent with witness testimony - Dr. Espinola determined that Blas had sustained blunt force trauma to the right side of his head, but defense attorney Mike Nisperos pointed out that witnesses testified that Kaipat struck Blas on the left side of his head. 

Espinola told jurors today that the blunt force trauma could have been caused by an object or instrument used to strike Blas, or a karate chop if the individual who struck him was a martial arts expert.

Attorney Nisperos asked Judge Elizabeth Barrett Anderson for a directed verdict of not guilty as he argued the prosecution failed to introduce any evidence that showed his client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, Nisperos contends the evidence they did present, provided alternative theories as to how Blas was actually killed.

Prosecutor Stephen Leon Guerrero told the judge he felt satisfied that the elements that make up the charges were met and said Kaipat used his hand to strike the victim who sustained a skull fracture and fell to the ground.  Leon Guerrero added, "The reckless conduct of the defendant led to Blas' death." But Attorney Nisperos pointed out that all of the witnesses testified that Kaipat used an open palm to strike Blas on the left side of his face, but the medical examiner said the blunt force trauma was found on the right side of Blas' head. 

Nisperos added, "There's no evidence he caused the death.  It wasn't caused by him."

Judge Barrett Anderson denied the defense's motion and said the trial will proceed tomorrow when the defense will present its case including witnesses' testimony. The parties have been instructed not to speak to the media about the case. Additionally, jurors have been told not to speak about the trial or watch or read any news reports about the case.

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