Trial begins for man accused of murdering his mother - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Trial begins for man accused of murdering his mother

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - The government begins to make its case in the trial against Allan Agababa - the man accused of killing his mother to collect her death benefits.   

It was on August 12, 2013 Shelly Bernstein was found dead in her Tamuning apartment.

The last to see her and the first to discover her body lying in a pool of blood was her oldest son, Allan Agababa - the man prosecution believes had a motive to kill her.

Prosecutor Brian Gallagher said, "The defendant when he called, asked about the benefits his mom, Shelly Bernstein a flight attendant, would receive upon her death. Now I submit to you that the evidence would show that this would not been unusual had the circumstances been different."

But defense attorney Randy Cunliffe argues otherwise, saying, "You will hear that the police were suspicious of him because they didn't understand how he was reacting. They didn't think he was upset enough at his mother's death."

First to take the stand on the government's behalf were the first responders to the scene, including GPD Officer Burt Carbullido who testified that Agababa was quick to provide police with an alibi on his whereabouts the night of his mother's murder.

He said, "Without me asking him he pulled from his pockets a receipt from the Mobil saying look I have my receipt I was at the Mobil buying cigarettes. Look at the time. And that got my attention."

Carbullido's suspicions didn't stop there however as Agababa didn't call 911 upon discovering his mother's body, but instead reported straight to his neighbors.

Carbullido said, "That's another one that sparked me. This is your mother. You've got your cell phone in your hand, yet you go to the neighbor's house to ask to call 911."

While Agababa didn't call police, he did make one call that evening. That call would be to his mother's boss, United Airlines senior manager, Clarrisa Perez.

She said, "He told me his home was broken into. That they stole the laptops and that his mother was gone. I had asked are you sure? Have you called 911? He responded yes and in fact they were waiting on the medical examiner to arrive. Then he said my mother told me that if anything should happen to her that I should contact you and that he wasn't aware of what benefits she had."

Perez testified today that the only benefits available to Agababa would be life insurance and retirement 401(K). She admits today that she was surprised by the timeliness of Agababa's call and how the defendant appeared calm for someone who had just lost his mother.

Perez also tells the court that in a subsequent conversation with Agababa, he requested for Bernstein's social security number so that he may avail her benefits. Perez says this raised red flags as she expected Bernstein would've already discussed this with her sons in the event of her passing.

Also taking the stand today were neighbors Robert Dodd Plew and Phillip Turner Kapp. Both men stated that Agababa came to them in the middle of the night reporting the apartment he shared with his mother had been burglarized and brought them inside the home to show his mother's dead body. Although Agababa reported his laptop and ID were stolen that night, GPD officers say the apartment didn't appear as if it had been ransacked noting that Bernstein's purse and a big screen TV were still inside.

Trial will continue on Wednesday where medical examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola is anticipated to testify. As we've been reporting, Espinola ruled Bernstein's death a result of blunt force trauma to the head.

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