Appellate court overturned Trial court’s manslaughter conviction of Chelsea Ngirakesiil and ordered her release from jail and a return of her posted bail in a decision issued this week.
Appellant had filed an appeal of her manslaughter conviction on the grounds that government did not prove she was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Ngirakesiil was convicted of manslaughter for failing to bring her husband to hospital after Dr. Arurang advised her to seek urgent medical help for him from an incident that occurred in March of 2019. She did not immediately bring her husband to hospital and he died the next day from head injuries.
In June of 2020, Ms. Ngirakesiil was convicted on a charge of manslaughter for the death of her husband Charlie Ngcheed. She was sentenced to 10 years of probation and 2 years in jail beginning on June 26, 2020.
In the appeal, court determined that Ngirakesiil had responsibility to seek medical help for her husband but she failed to bring her husband to seek medical help. She had taken him home instead of the hospital and returned to party.
Appellate court said that her behavior “supports a finding of criminal recklessness” but it said that government failed to prove that Ngirakesiil’s reckless action caused the death of her husband. “If the death was not proximately caused by the defendant’s failure to provide medical attention, he or she cannot be convicted.”
Court said that couple of doctors testified in court about the victim’s injuries and cause of death but they were not asked whether defendant’s action of not bringing the victim immediately to hospital caused his death. Appellate decision states, “In the absence of any testimony or documentary evidence suggesting that earlier medical intervention would have saved Charlie’s life (or at least increased his chances of survival), we much conclude that no such proof exists.” Just because she acted recklessly, government failed to prove that her action caused the death of her husband
The Appellate decision issued on Tuesday, July 27th also mooted a growing controversy around the case involving a release order issued by Associate Justice Rechucher on July 20, 2021, where he released Ngirakesiil pending the outcome of the abovementioned appeal. Government through Attorney General’s Office filed an Emergency Motion to recuse Associate Justice saying that he acted without either party’s requesting him to take action.
Three (3) days after she was released on July 23rd, Justice Rechucher remanded Ngirakesiil back to jail for failure to comply with release order conditions.
Four (4) days later, on July 27th, after she was remanded to jail, the Appellate decision freed her from jail by overturning her conviction.