Mastermind behind Bergeron murder found guilty
By Joyce McClure
The Yap Supreme Court today rendered a guilty verdict on Francis Choay Buchun, one of the two defendants in the slaying of Yap’s acting Attorney General Rachelle Bergeron.
Chief Justice Cyprian Manmaw declared Buchun guilty of all charges with the exception of the lesser charges of manslaughter, negligent homicide, assault and aggravated assault. Nineteen charges in total were filed against the defendant.
Buchun was the “mastermind” behind the Oct. 14, 2019, murder that was carried out by his accomplice, Anthony Tun Teteeth, who has also been convicted in a separate trial of murder and other charges among the 19 filed. Sentencing for Tun has not yet been announced.
At the trial, witnesses said the murder was motivated by Bergeron’s filing in April 2019 of 27 charges against Buchun for sexual assault, 10 counts of sexual abuse, and one count of threatening to kill the victim, an underage family member, and on unrelated charges of weapons and ammunition possession filed in June 2019.
Buchun claimed he only wanted to “scare” Bergeron into leaving the island. She and her new husband, Simon Hammerling, a pilot at the time with Pacific Mission Aviation, were scheduled to leave Yap a couple of months later when Bergeron was to begin a new job in Wyoming.
The prosecution, led by FSM Assistant Attorney General Josephine Leben James, is asking for a sentence of 70 years and a fine of $43,900 for Buchun to be served in the Chuuk prison, a more secure facility than the small jail in Yap where both defendants have been incarcerated since being taken into custody soon after the murder.
Sentencing for Buchun will take place on Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. in Yap State Court.
The federal trial for weapons and ammunition possession used in the murder will take place in FSM Supreme Court in Yap on Feb. 13 with Judge Larry Wentworth presiding.