Guilty plea anticipated in church-shooting case
By Derek Spellman
NEOSHO, Mo. — A Neosho man who is charged with killing three leaders of a Micronesian church congregation in Neosho is expected to plead guilty later this week.
Newton County Prosecutor Jacob Skouby said he anticipates a guilty plea from Eiken Saimon in accordance with a tentative agreement with his office. He declined to disclose further details pending a hearing on Friday.
“We are confident of a plea Friday,” he said.
Saimon, 53, previously pleaded innocent to three counts of murder, four counts of assault, and one count each of felonious restraint and armed criminal action.
He is accused of walking into the First Congregational Church with a semiautomatic pistol and a .22-caliber handgun, and opening fire during an Aug. 12, 2007, service for Micronesian members of the church. Saimon is a native of the Micronesian island of Pohnpei.
Cynthia Dryden, one of the public defenders representing Saimon, declined to comment when contacted Monday.
Skouby said prosecutors were seeking the death penalty against Saimon because the case met some of the aggravating circumstances spelled out in state statutes, including the allegation of multiple murder victims and the alleged “outrageously or wantonly vile” nature of the slayings.
Saimon’s defense attorneys earlier this year filed motions to preclude the state from seeking the death penalty, including objections to the state’s aggravating circumstances, according to online court records.
Saimon also is charged with second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy in connection with a separate alleged incident on Aug. 10, 2007. He has pleaded innocent to those charges.
Skouby said the anticipated plea should cover all the charges pending against Saimon.
Killed at the church in August 2007 were a Micronesian-American pastor, Kernel Rehobson, 43; his uncle, Intenson Rehobson, 44; and Kuhpes Jesse Ikosia, 53. All three men were church leaders. Four other church members were wounded.
Saimon reportedly told investigators that he embarked on the shooting spree because he was angry about disparaging comments that other members of the Micronesian community had made about him.
He is being held at the Newton County Jail. Bond has been denied on charges connected to the shooting.