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John Santos Aldan appeals rape conviction

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JOHN Santos Aldan, who was convicted of raping a then 18-year-old girl, has asked the CNMI Supreme Court to reverse the verdict and remand his case to the trial court for a new trial.

Chief Justice Alexandro Castro, Justice John Manglona, and Justice Perry Inos on Tuesday heard the oral arguments via video conferencing. Assistant Attorney General J. Robert Glass Jr. represented the government while Assistant Public Defender Jean Nogues appeared for Aldan.

On May 26, 2017, a jury found Aldan guilty of sexually assaulting the victim in a jungle area near the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport. The incident occurred on Feb. 8, 2016.

For her part, Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio found Aldan guilty of disturbing the peace. She sentenced him to the maximum 30-year prison term for sexual assault in the first degree and six months for disturbing the peace. Both sentences will run concurrently, to be served without the possibility of parole.

In his appeal, Aldan said the trial court improperly admitted the expert testimony of Christina Nash on Y-STR DNA analysis. He also said that his sentence was not individualized and was imposed mechanically, adding that the trial court “abused its discretion by not articulating why it denied him eligibility for parole.”

He said the jury verdict should be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial. In the alternative, he asked the high court to vacate his sentence and remand the case to a different judge for resentencing.

The victim told the police that Aldan picked her up from school on Feb. 8, 2016, but instead of taking the regular route, she said he drove her to the jungle area by the airport where he raped her inside a pickup truck. She later told her mother about the assault and this led to Aldan’s arrest.

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