Jurors in murder case back in court this week

ACOSTA: Brandon Michael Acosta listens as Judge Vernon Perez denies a motion to dismiss charges against Acosta, on June 22 in the Superior Court of Guam. Acosta is charged with the rape and murder of 15-year-old Timicca Nauta. Media pool

The jurors in the trial against murder and rape defendant Brandon Michael Acosta will be back in the Superior Court of Guam on Thursday to find out if they are ready to continue hearing the case.

Acosta, who stands accused in the 2018 death of 15-year-old Timicca Nauta, appeared before Judge Vernon Perez on Tuesday for a status hearing.

The case is among others that have been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prosecution and the defense agreed to have the jury appear in court on Thursday to determine if they are ready to proceed.

"They need to focus, each one of the jurors. They need to feel safe and it's going to take longer to bring them into the courtroom," said Judge Perez. "It may be one at a time and where they are not bunched up against each other. There's going to be a lot of washing hands or using sanitizer. But there is also going to be a lot of delays."

The courtroom has installed a plexiglass barrier at the witness stand and red tape has been placed throughout to mark where the jurors will be allowed to sit to maintain a safe distance.

Everyone at the Guam Judicial Center is required to wear a face mask and have their temperatures checked before entering the building.

"My client wants to move forward," said Acosta's attorney, William Pole.

"We, too, are anxious to move forward," said Assistant Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas.

It was said in court that the jury could begin listening to the audio playback from the trial held earlier this year. The recording is about 18 hours long.

"We will ask them individually if they are ready to go forward. Can their entire focus be on trial, being mindful of the hours to have the playback, and go forward with this trial?" Perez said.

It's unclear when trial will resume. The defense has yet to confirm whether Acosta will take the stand and testify.

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