The Yap State Supreme Court has set October 29 and 30 for the defendants charged with the murder of former Yap’s acting Attorney General Rachelle Bergeron-Hammerling
According to the Yap State Dept. of Youth & Civic Affairs press update, The hearings for the Yap State and FSM National court cases for the murder of Bergeron-Hammerling in October 2019, were postponed when FSM announced a travel ban on January 31, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of the travel ban the defense and prosecuting attorneys and judge, who are based in Pohnpei and Chuuk, have been unable to travel to Yap.
The press update further added that hearings for pre-trial motions for the firearms and ammunition charges that reside with the FSM National Supreme Court were held in December 2019 and more were scheduled for February. But the February hearing was cancelled as the court awaits for the evidential reports from the United States.
A Zoom conference call was held between the judge and attorneys on September 3, 2020 to discuss how to proceed in light of the travel ban. And It was agreed that future hearings would be held via Zoom with the defendants sitting in the FSM Supreme Court courtroom in Yap.
Francis Buchun and Anthony Teteeth are charged with a total of 19 counts of criminal complaint ranging from murder and manslaughter to firearms possession.
“As of now, the judge and attorneys are planning to travel to Yap for those hearings if the travel ban has been lifted and Yap is allowing passengers to disembark,” the update stated.
In the criminal complaint filed before the Yap State Supreme Court on October 28 last year, the two defendants allegedly conspired to kill Bergeron-Hammerling.
According to court documents, Buchun and Teteeth have been “planning the murder weeks in advance and arranging for weapons and ammunition.”
Bergeron was killed by gunfire, Oct. 14, outside her home after returning from her daily jog.
Ms. Bergeron was rushed to the hospital, but due to fatal wounds, 21 bullet holes in total, she was dead on arrival.
Although Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) prohibits gun possession, Ms. Bergeron was shot three times at close range, with locals confirming the use of a shotgun to kill the American lawyer.
The murder shocked the otherwise peaceful state of Yap. ( B. Carreon)