The plea agreement for a man accused of sexual assault and family violence has hit a snag in the Superior Court of Guam.
Defendant Nickson Walter, 50, appeared in court on Thursday once again hoping to enter a guilty plea to the charges in the plea agreement that the government signed in April.
"Mr. Walter is prepared to go forward with the plea agreement," defense attorney Richard Dierks stated, noting the agreement was signed by former prosecuting attorney Thomas Neuman.
However, the prosecution told the court it is waiting for a new formal plea agreement that a newly assigned prosecutor sent to Dierks.
"This is Mr. (Matthew) Phelps' case," Assistant Attorney General Brendalyn Joseph said. "Phelps signed and sent a plea agreement to Mr. Dierks, I believe, two weeks ago. He's been waiting."
Walter, a level three registered sex offender, was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct as a first-degree felony, family violence as a third-degree felony and family violence as a misdemeanor in January 2018. He allegedly slapped and pushed a pregnant woman known to him to the ground before he forced her to have sex with him.
Attorney Dierks previously said the agreement calls for Walter to plead guilty to family violence, and the criminal sexual conduct charge would be dismissed. It was stated during Walter's hearing earlier this week that the victim rescinded the rape claims about a week after the allegations were made. Walter could be released from prison about a week once the court accepts the plea deal.
"I am getting three different signals from four different prosecutors. We made a deal with Mr. Neuman. I believe Mr. (Leonardo) Rapadas was going to go through with this. He informed me that there's no problem," Dierks said.
Superior Court Judge Vernon Perez said he hopes both parties can come to an agreement.
"What I don't want is really any lack of understanding," Perez said. "In the end, one attorney will represent that what's before the court is exactly what is agreed to and the other attorney will do the same."
Dierks told the court that attorney Rapadas, who he understands is the supervisor, said the initial agreement was fine.
"I ask (that) at the next hearing, the prosecutor physically present in the courtroom be the one who makes the decision, will keep their word, and stick by it," Dierks said. "The clear message that I am getting is they are breaching and they are trying to change the terms of what we agreed to."
Walter is scheduled to appear back in court today for a continued change of plea.
According to the Guam Sex Offender Registry, Walter was convicted in 2014 of unlawful restraint as a misdemeanor. The victim in that case was 39 years old.