A large contingent of Guam media staked out the second floor of the courthouse early, anticipating the sight of Guam’s currently acting governor facing criminal charges in the July 7 incident.
But the man behind the defendant table when the appearance got underway wasn’t the lt. governor, but his attorney, Tom Fisher, who had filed a legal waiver of appearance a couple of hours before the scheduled court session, with Judge Benjamin C. Sison Jr. on the bench.
Judge Sison set Tenorio's trial for March 13, 2019. Shortly after the hearing, Tenorio, who begged off a personal court appearance based on the pressing needs of post-Typhoon Mangkhut Guam, satisfied one court requirement by reporting to the local probation office, where his picture was taken and to which he’ll have to report monthly by phone.
He will also have to have his fingerprints taken and fill out required forms at the police station.
At the hearing, Fisher entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on Tenorio's behalf. Tenorio waived his right to a speedy trial, Fisher said.
A total of four charges against Tenorio include reckless conduct, obstructing government function and official misconduct, all treated as misdemeanors, rather than as felonies.
At the arraignment, Chief Prosecutor Joseph McDonald said Assistant Deputy Attorney General James Collins, who was off island, will prosecute the case.
McDonald asked the judge to order Tenorio to stay away from guns and alcohol given the nature of the case, but Attorney Fisher objected to the alcohol portion, saying that alcohol or intoxication were not part of the charges, though Tenorio has admitted to consuming two or three beers before attempting to educate Police Sergeant Carl Cruz on how to secure his loaded service weapon by yanking it out of his holster. In an official report quoted in court documents, Cruz said he took back the weapon and that Tenorio ‘reeked’ of alcohol.
Judge Sison declined to put Tenorio on the wagon pending the trial. He did order Tenorio to stay away from Sgt. Cruz and other potential witnesses to the incident. Attorney Fisher described local media coverage of the alcohol aspect of the ‘gun grabbing’ incident as “purplish,” suggesting the media has exaggerated it.