July 22, 2009

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

Pohnpei, FSM - The murder trial for the murder of Ron Kersey began at Pohnpei Supreme Court on July 17, 2009, one day short of a month after his murder.

At approximately 6:45 on the evening of June 18, Ron Kersey, a US citizen and long time resident of Pohnpei was severely beaten in his home in Nanpohnmal. Not long afterward he was found by family members on the floor of his home. He died shortly thereafter.

DJ Jeilo was arrested for the murder just over three hours later. In addition to the murder charge Jeilo is also charged with five other charges in connection with the murder including Manslaughter, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Assault and Battery, Trespass, and Disorderly Conduct.

Pohnpei Attorney General Scott Garvey ordered an autopsy, a procedure his office says should always be conducted whenever there has been a murder. The autopsy revealed that the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

This is not the first time that Jeilo has been in trouble with the law.

Indeed, Jeilo was the defendant in two of the three cases begun at the Pohnpei State Supreme Court on the 17th. He is accused of vandalizing and burglarizing the building where the Aqua Serv water company operates in Nanpohnmal.

Assistant Attorney General Ira Shiflett is handling the murder prosecution on behalf of Pohnpei State.

Shiflett said that in 2008, Jeilo was charged in case number 152-08. He was acquitted of a sexual assault charge in that matter but was sentenced to six months in jail for Assault and Battery and Disorderly Conduct in connection with the case.

In 2006 Jeilo served six months in prison for Assault and Battery and Disorderly Conduct connected with case number 292- 06. He was acquitted of the charge of Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon that had been filed in that case.

Shifflet said that Jeilo had been the defendant in five other criminal cases that had been disposed of between 2002 and 2005. Those records are in the Attorney General's archives and were not available at press time.

A former victim of Jeilo's crimes said that he had filed burglary charges during that time period for theft of over $10,000 worth of his personal belongings and that Jeilo had done jail time for those crimes.

On the day of the murder trial opening a Pohnpei police officer carried a wicked looking dark colored wooden pickaxe handle into the courtroom bearing a police tag. He carried it back out with him after the trial was continued until the 24th of July at 2:30 in the afternoon.

The trial was continued because the AG's office submitted photographic evidence to the court on the morning of the trial that the defense attorneys for the Pohnpei Public Defender's Office who have been assigned to defend Jeilo had not had time to review.

When asked if he had any other discovery material to submit in the case Shiflett said that there were other crime photographs in the possession of a Pohnpei police officer who will be off island until the 2nd of August but that he was ready to proceed without the additional photographs if necessary. The trial was continued until the afternoon of the 24th of July.

On July 6, Shiflett filed a motion with the court to increase the bail amount for Jeilo to $100,000.

Defense attorneys had asked that Jeilo be released from jail on the $2500 bond that the court had already granted with a payment of 10% of that amount.

Shiflett said that the fact that Jeilo had been due to appear before the court on the felony charges involved in the Aqua Serv burglary on the day after he allegedly murdered Ron Kersey showed that Jeilo has no respect for the law and that releasing him on bail would endanger the community.

He said that Kersey's family members were vehemently opposed to bail for Jeilo.

The court has committed to rule on the matter of bail by Monday the 20th or Tuesday the 21st of July.

Jeilo, who was not in shackles walked out of the courtroom when he was dismissed. He was quickly followed by a Pohnpei police officer while all heads turned.

Substantial numbers of witnesses were dismissed shortly afterward.

According to the Attorney General's office, Murder is one of the few criminal charges that carries a minimum sentence. The charge for murder carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years with a maximum of a life sentence.