by Mindy Aguon
Guam - After spending the last 14 months behind bars, Isaac Wabol Kaipat is now a free man. After less than a full day of deliberations, a jury cleared Kaipat of charges of manslaughter, negligent homicide and aggravated assault for the death of Robert Gee Mantanona Blas.
Jurors did find Kaipat guilty of assault as a misdemeanor. The verdict came as a surprise to Blas' family and friends who sought closure. Kaipat's attorney, Mike Nisperos, says the verdict shows that an innocent man was charged, who said he's grateful for the hard work of the Public Defender's Office. "Almost every staff member in the office contributed to this effort, especially investigator Robbie Call, who performed above and beyond the call of duty. Attorney Peter Sablan, every attorney in the office helped with the legal research on the complex issues, every investigator helped interview witnesses, all of the support staff. It was a united effort of the Public Defender's Office," he said.
Conversely, prosecutor Clyde Lemons reacted to the jury's decision by telling KUAM News, "I respect the jury's verdict. I think we had the right person all along. The jury did what they did and we respect their decision."
Kaipat testified that he slapped Blas on the left side of his face outside the Club 7 Deuce, but the autopsy showed that Blas had sustained blunt force trauma to the right side of his head. Kaipat was sentenced to one year behind bars with credit for time served. Another hearing is scheduled for January 26.