Edward Baza, Jr. found not guilty for bank robbery
After less than two hours in deliberations, jurors in the trial against Edward Baza, Jr. return a not guilty verdict on all charges. Baza is the fourth defendant to stand trial in last year's Bank of Guam robbery.
Jathan Tedtaotao is already serving time for the crime - over twenty years behind bars for the Yigo Bank of Guam robbery and another unrelated crime.
Although the case was tried in court last year with Tedtaotao implicating three others as his co-conspirators, those individuals were acquitted of the charges because Tedtaotao refused to testify against them.
Now new suspects have come forward - Irvin White III and Jackery White who've pleaded guilty to the robbery and report that Tedtaotao is not only innocent but that Edward Baza, Jr. was the gunman in the heist. Only their testimony ties Baza to the crime, but is it enough?
Prosecutor Brian Gallagher argued today that because Irvin White was able to provide investigators with information and evidence from that day, his testimony can be trusted.
Gallagher said, "Why did the police believe Irvin white? Number one the physical evidence. The shirt. The clothing. The mask. And the bags. The yellow shirt with a very distinctive insignia on the back very distinctive color was something he handed over to the police."
On Thursday, the whites testified they conspired with Baza to rob the Yigo bank and that the men split the $11,000 from teller drawers before parting ways.
But the Whites' can't be trusted. This from Public Defender James Mortland who reminded jurors that the father and son duo have extensive criminal histories and are known users of crystalmeth.
Instead, Mortland tells the court that there are still many gaps to the story presented by prosecutors specifically evidence tying Baza to the crime, including the red mask and 9mm gun.
Mortland said, "There's no mask found and even when we heard from some of the witnesses, they didn't know what type of mask. People were saying it was a Spiderman mask. When you look at the video, it's a red mask - a common red mask."
Meanwhile, parties argued Baza's history in the Guam Army National Guard and how it would've impacted how he handled a gun.
As seen in bank surveillance footage, the gunman holds the gun sideways - whereas with both hands as a guardsman is trained to do.
Mortland said, "Mr. Baza was part of the National Guard. As part of the National Guard you are trained how to use a gun. He's not a gangster. He doesn't walk in with the gun sideways like a gangster. He's a military person. Mr. Baza himself said its stupid to run in with a gun sideways because it can fire off at any time. Whoever did this did not have military training. Was not familiar with guns."
Gallagher said, "He apparently was not very good at it. He was discharged according to his testimony that even by his own testimony although it may have been honorable it was involuntary. He didn't want to leave the military. He left the military because he didn't even bother to show up. In the civilian world, that's called getting fired."
In response to today's not guilty verdict, Mortland states he's "feeling relieved and incredibly happy for the Baza family." Meanwhile, Gallagher confirms that Irvin and Jackery White's plea deals don't depend on the outcome of today's case, but on their truthful and full cooperation.
As we've been reporting, both whites are anticipated to receive 7.5 years each in exchange for testifying against Baza.