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Jurors polled about media accounts

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - In three days the prosecution was able to present their case to a jury tasked to determine the fate of Anthony C. Flores.  He is charged with the 1999 murder of Sherri Lea Taylor and is being retried after his conviction was overturned because of mid-trial publicity. Hoping to ensure that doesn't happen again, the prosecution called their last witness to the stand today and asked that the court poll jurors about exposure to media accounts of the case.

Chief Prosecutor Basil O'Mallan isn't taking any chances of losing another conviction as the prosecution did several years ago when Flores was tried the first time. Flores was convicted for Taylor's death, but because a witness spoke to media during the trial, the Guam Supreme Court overturned the jury's decision. O'Mallan today asked Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Barrett Anderson to poll the members of the jury to ensure none have read, watched or listened to any news accounts of what the judge called a "high media exposed case". 

The judge, before adjourning until Tuesday, reminded jurors of her repeated instruction to determine the facts of the case only from evidence presented during the trial. Not from any other source. Jurors have been admonished not to read newspaper articles, or watch or listen to television or radio accounts of the trial to ensure they are not influenced by anything other than what is presented at trial.  The panel indicated they have adhered to her instructions.

O'Mallan said he requested the poll simply as a precaution in light of the previous Supreme Court ruling that resulted in the overturned conviction. The prosecution contends that Flores was responsible for beating Taylor with a telephone and wrapping the cord around her neck and then beating her with a hotel room chair. She died several days later and both sides have differing opinions about exactly what caused Taylor's death.

Today jurors heard from the prosecution's witness, Guam Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola who explained that he conducted a second autopsy of Taylor and determined she died from internal bleeding as a result of blunt force trauma. He reviewed photos that showed Taylor had bruising on her face and testified that the victim also had bruises on her abdomen. Espinola said the autopsy also revealed that Taylor's kidney was failing and she had an abnormal liver possibly due to excessive alcohol use.

Defense Attorney Randy Cunliffe asked Espinola to confirm that her internal bleeding could have been a result of alcohol induced hepatitis. Cunliffe said that several doctors at Naval Hospital diagnosed Taylor with a condition that affects blood clotting.  Espinola testified though that the internal bleeding, he believed stemmed from trauma not necessarily from a bad liver. 

The government rested their case and the defense will present their case beginning Tuesday with the testimony of their expert witness, forensic pathologist Dr. Joseph Cohen, via videoconference.

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