MISTRIAL: hung jury in Agababa case
Thursday, November 13th 2014, 5:12 PM ChST
Guam - Guilty or not guilty? After three failed attempts to reach a unanimous decision, it was a hung jury in the Allan Agababa murder trial resulting in a mistrial Thursday morning.
This means a new trial and a new set of jurors for defendant Agababa, the man accused of killing his mother, Shelly Bernstein to collect her death benefits.
It was August 2013 Bernstein was found dead in her Tamuning apartment. The last to see her alive and the first to find her dead was her oldest son, Allan Agababa who alleges he was out buying cigarettes at the time of his mother's attack.
According to testimony from the island's chief medical examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola, Bernstein died of blunt force trauma to the head, as a result of a single blow - what he deemed a homicide. Espinola however could not identify what object hit her head, but ruled out her injury was sustained from a fall.
Conflicting testimony from defense's witness, California-based forensic pathologist Dr. Joseph Cohen challenged Espinola's findings. According to Cohen, it was a combination of prescription drugs and blunt impact to the head that caused Bernstein's death. Rather than rule the manner of death a homicide, he said he would rule it inconclusive seeing as there was a possibility that the woman had an accidental fall.
Testimony also revealed that the night of Bernstein's death, Agababa didn't call police, but called his mother's boss at united airlines where she worked as a flight attendant. Agababa reportedly asked about his mother's benefits and later visited the workplace to learn his mother had over $850,000 in benefits which would be split between him and his younger brother, dusty.
Testimony also alleges that Agababa solicited for a gun with a silencer or chemicals and following his mother's death, solicited for help destroying the evidence.
The gun was reportedly thrown over the Ylig Bridge, but never recovered.
Defense Attorney Randy Cunliffe declined to comment on today's mistrial. Meanwhile, prosecutor Jeremiah Luther tells KUAM that although they're disappointed that the jury could not reach a unanimous decision, the victim deserves justice. Luther adds they remain confident in their case which includes an admission of guilt from Agababa's associate, Randall Fulcher and lastly that they are hopeful for a conviction moving forward with a new set of jurors. Agababa's next court appearance is a criminal trial setting scheduled for December 2.
Agababa is still in custody at
the Department of Corrections.