Church shooting: Court slates more hearings

John Ford

More pre-trial conferences were set Monday for Eiken Elam Saimon, the man accused in an Aug. 12 church shooting incident that left three Micronesian pastors dead.

Saimon, 53, will be back in Presiding Judge Timothy Perigo’s Newton County courtroom at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 25 for the proceedings, it was decided during a pre-trial conference Monday.

Saimon is accused in the Aug. 12 shooting deaths of Kernel Rehobson, Intenson Rehobson and Kuhpes Jesse Ikosia, all pastors of a Micronesian congregation which met Sunday afternoons at First Congregational Church of Neosho. Saimon was a second cousin to Kernel Rehobson.

He also is accused of raping his 14-year-old niece on Aug. 10 at his home on Iris Road. Prosecutors have said this was retaliation for a conflict about the use of his car without his permission.

On Aug. 12,  Saimon reportedly entered First Congregational Church in Neosho where the congregation was having afternoon services and shouted “Liars! Liars!” before opening fire. The three pastors were killed and several other people were injured in the incident. Saimon then allegedly held 20 other members of the congregation hostage for a brief period of time before surrendering to authorities.

Saimon faces three counts of first degree murder, four counts of first degree assault, a count of armed criminal action and a count of felonious restraint in connection with the church shooting incident and two felony counts of second degree statutory sodomy and second degree statutory rape in connection with the Aug. 10 incident at his home.

Trial has been set for June 23, with a jury to be chosen in Green County, then sequestered in Newton County for the proceedings.

If convicted, Saimon could face up to life in prison on each of the murder and assault charges, up to seven years on the felonious restraint charge, an unspecified penalty for the armed criminal action charge, and up to seven years on each of the statutory rape and statutory sodomy charges.

Neosho Daily News