January 06, 2010

The Kaselehlie Press

Mapusi, Pohnpei - In the last hours of Christmas Day a street .ght broke out in Mapusi, Pohnpei that ended with the death of 36 year old Erlino Remei. Mariano John, who was supposed to have been providing security services for the Dollar Up Store was arrested for allegedly crushing Remei's skull with a large rock. Brian Edwin was also arrested as an accessory to the murder. Both of the men are from Ngatik an outer island of Pohnpei.

Police say that alcohol was a central factor in the crime. They said that both John and Edwin had been drinking heavily during the evening.

Remei had been drinking sakau en Pohnpei (kava) and witnesses say that he had only had one or two beers as a kapohpo. Sakau drinkers often finish with a beer as a chaser that cements the feeling generated by the sakau, a feeling of numb well being rather than the violent intoxication so often associated with alcohol consumption (sakau en wai).

Witnesses say that at approximately 11:00 that night Remei noticed a young woman crying on the sidewalk outside of the Midtown Tire Shop where he worked in Mapusi. Remei, who was both deaf and mute went to the young woman to try to console her, a task made more difficult by the fact that he could neither hear nor speak.

They said that John and Edwin apparently misread the situation and thought that Remei had done something to the young woman that caused her to cry. They confronted Remei and a shoving match ensued.

Edwin slapped Remei who ran into his home and emerged carrying a length of 2 x 4 lumber, 1 foot 10 inches in length. Edwin picked up two large rocks and the two prepared to fight but onlookers and family members held the two at bay. The crowd was successful in breaking up the fight but no one had yet called the police about the matter. Both Edwin and Remei dropped their weapons.

Another street skirmish erupted some time later adjacent to Grace's Bakery and still no one bothered to call the police to notify them about the alcohol related problem that had developed. Police were only notified after Remei was struck with a large rock, allegedly by Mariano John who was on duty as Dollar Up's security guard. By then it was too late.

Wainer Louis who lives across the street from the bakery said that he was already in bed sleeping by the time the fight broke out and was awakened by the screaming and shouting in the street. He put clothes on and went to investigate the source of the problem and found Remei bleeding and lying in the parking lot of Grace's Bakery. He yelled for someone to call the police and an ambulance. Meanwhile he took Remei's pulse and found it to be rapid and extremely weak.

Kolonia Town Police arrived on the scene at 11:45 that night. They immediately put Remei into the bed of their pickup truck and rushed him to Pohnpei State Hospital where Dr. Dias pronounced him dead on arrival.

Pohnpei Police Officer Kasner Aldens of the Pohnpei State Police rushed to the hospital and arrived there just after midnight but Remei had already been pronounced dead.

Other Pohnpei State Police Officers went to the place where the fight occurred and arrested John and Edwin for the murder of Erlino Remei. They are both in custody pending court actions.

Remei had been living with the brother of Officer Aldens who owns the house between Grace's Bakery and the Midtown Tire Shop.

One of the witnesses to the murder of Erlino Remei was Richard Kersey whose own father was violently beaten to death by DJ Jeilo in Kersey's home earlier this year. The sentence for Jeilo's murder conviction is due to be pronounced on the 8th of January at the Pohnpei State Supreme Court. Chief Justice Benjamin Rodriguez is presiding over that case.