Officer’s appeal rejected in Blue House case on Guam

David Mania of Guam Police Department

Attorney William Pole places his hand on the shoulder of his client, Guam Police Officer David Manila, at the start of a hearing at the Superior Court of Guam in this November 2012 photograph. Manila’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Guam to amend his release conditions was denied. Manila has been unable to make his $250,000 bail since he was arrested in October 2012.

The Supreme Court of Guam has rejected an appeal filed by Blue House defendant police officer David Manila, saying he waited too long to file it.

Manila, who has been unable to make his $250,000 bail since he was arrested last November, had asked justices to change his release conditions.

The high court’s decision to reject his appeal means the Blue House case in the Superior Court of Guam can move toward trial in the coming months.

Manila’s attorney last week filed a notice of appeal, asking justices to overturn Judge Anita Sukola’s dismissal of a motion to release Manila on bond.

The motion argued that the seriousness of the crimes allegedly committed and the potential threat Manila posed to victims was overemphasized by prosecutors.

“The government waited four years to bring charges against Manila and saw no reason why he should be incarcerated during that period,” wrote Terence Timblin, Manila’s attorney.

Manila is a defendant in the Blue House case alongside brothel owner Song Ja Cha and fellow officer Anthony Quenga.

Cha was the manager of the brothel, into which she lured women from the Federated States of Micronesia with the promise of high-paying jobs but subsequently forced them into prostitution. She was convicted of sex trafficking in a separate case in federal court and sentenced to life in prison.

The officers are accused of helping Cha maintain control of the women and also are accused of raping women at Blue House.

Though the lounge was raided and shut down by police in 2008, the local case didn’t begin until late last year, after Cha’s federal trial was over.

Manila, Quenga and a third officer, Mario Laxamana, were all arrested in November and became co-defendants in the case.

The officers were arrested after a series of stories published by the Pacific Daily News that highlighted alleged police involvement in the brothel’s operations.

Laxamana later pleaded guilty to felonious restraint and official misconduct and agreed to help prosecutors.

Manila has asked to be released twice.

Both times, however, the court denied his request, expressing concern for the victims after a police officer testified the women were afraid of police.

On Monday, Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido dismissed the appeal, calling it “untimely.”

Under Guam law, appeals must be filed within 10 days after a judge’s decision is rendered.

While Timblin argued that the time limit shouldn’t apply to bail hearings, Carbullido noted the time to file an appeal can’t be extended more than 30 days past the judgment’s issuance.

During yesterday’s hearing, Sukola said she planned to set the case for a trial in the near future, after she finishes working on a different trial. That trial could end by May 31, she said.

“As soon as that trial is over, this one will happen,” she said.

A pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for Monday in Sukola’s courtroom.

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