Case involving former police commander ends in mistrial - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Case involving former police commander ends in mistrial

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He's off the hook for now. A Superior Court judge declares a mistrial in the case involving former Guam police commander Mark Charfauros.

Shaking the prosecutor's hands and with a smile on his face, former GPD commander Mark Charfauros makes his way out of the courtroom. "Be ready for my next barbecue," he told prosecutors while showing the 'shaka' hand gesture.  This just moments after judge Maria Cenzon announced her ruling, during which she said, "And the court grants the defendants motion for a mistrial."

A mistrial in the case that took nearly two years for trial to begin. Charfauros was charged for misdemeanor obstructing governmental functions and official misconduct charges. Police body camera footage taken back in 2016 showed Charfauros yelling at junior officers who were responding to a call of fireworks at a home in Agat.

 
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GPD officer Craig Calvo was the first on scene. He testified on behalf of the government on Wednesday.  "I had reason to believe that the colonel was affiliated with the Agat Blood Town gang," he said.

But, it was that testimony that forced defense attorney Randy Cunliffe to call for a mistrial. Both parties argued the motion Thursday morning. "My client is not on trial for being a gang member, not for allegedly violating practices of his duties of his office. Now the whole defense is that he is a gang member, that's why he did what he did and that's not the case, Your Honor. That's a complete smear campaign of his character," he said.

"This has been all over social media, it's been all over the news and is almost impossible to have missed in this situation and we believe the court has an obligation to allow my client have a fair trial and grant a mistrial in this case. We believe that this was a premature motion. We weren't allowed to develop the testimony, the full testimony is not out there so to say that one simple statement is going to tank this whole case is very premature."

"Why is it too early? If I have to now spend three quarters of the trial defending my client - how do you know he is a member or affiliated with the Agat gang, what evidence do you have? It's a bold statement."

"Would they have made him a colonel of the police department if he was affiliated with a gang."

Prosecutor Pete Santos then recommending the court instruct the jury not to use the gang testimony when weighing the defendant's guilt or innocence.

But, the damage was already done. The court gave its ruling Thursday afternoon. Judge Cenzon said, "The government has had more than ample time to prepare for the prosecution of this case and at a minimum should have determine whether or not gang affiliation or evidence in it of itself could trigger notice requirements under 404B."

Charfauros and his attorney declined to comment following the announcement. Despite the mistrial, the charges against Charfauros remain.

Chief prosecutor Joseph McDonald said, "We respect the judge we will have to see what's written down and then do our analysis after that."

The government now challenged with bringing the case back to trial. Charfauros also has the option of having the charges thrown out.

For now, the judge has set further proceedings for a later date.

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