Court News


A man and woman living as a couple, who were accused by the government last year of beating their 3-year old child, were sentenced yesterday in High Court, who ordered the man to depart to his home country after serving 20 months behind bars at the Territorial Correctional Facility. (To protect the young child, Samoa News is not identifying the couple by name)

The jail time is a condition of the five years probation sentence. The man had pled guilty to assault in the second degree, while the woman pled guilty to misdemeanor assault in the third degree and she was sentenced to time already served.

Prior to handing down sentence, Associate Justice Lyle Richmond said that of all the years he has been a judge in American Samoa, this is the first time he has seen such a serious case come before him involving the beating of a youngster.

An aunt of the woman charged in the case told the court this is a very sad situation and her heart goes out to the youngster who was beaten. She said she is now caring for the youngster and the other children of the accused couple. She said the couple does not work and most of the time it is she and her husband who take care of them.

The man apologized to the court, saying he was trying to discipline the young child to have respect when it comes to the older sibling— a sister— but by doing so he violated local law. He asked for leniency and asked to be allowed to return home to care for his family.

His defense attorney Joseph Everett sought a probative sentence. Everett said his client has been in custody for almost a year and he believes the defendant has learned a lesson from this long period of time behind bars.

Assistant Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau asked the court to order the man deported to his home country after serving a required time behind bars as part of his sentence. Folau said the government had spoken with the woman’s family (the common-law-wife), who do not want the man to return to the family.

The woman’s attorney asked the court to allow the defendant to return home, saying the time she has spent behind bars since her arrest was sufficient punishment.


The woman accused by the government of stabbing her husband with a pair of scissors, has pled guilty under a plea agreement with the government and she will be sentenced next month.

For the guilty plea to second degree assault, the misdemeanor public peace disturbance charge was dismissed. She admitted under the plea agreement that on Apr. 22, she went to a taxi stand in Pago Pago and stabbed her husband with a pair of scissors. She found her husband at the stand chatting away with another man.

She said her husband was supposed to come home four hours earlier to bring money to buy food for their children. The defendant remains in custody unable to post bail and will be sentenced Sept. 22nd. (To protect the victim in a domestic violence case Samoa News is not identifying the defendant)


The High Court has scheduled for Sept. 22 sentencing for drug defendant Maene Letuligasenoa Jr., after he pled guilty this week to unlawful possession of a controlled substance — methamphetamine — with the intent to distribute.

For the guilty plea, the defendant admitted that sometime in April this year he possessed meth without justification or reason. With the guilty plea, the other charge of unlawful possession of a firearm was dismissed.

According to court documents, police executed on Apr. 5 a search warrant on Letuligasenoa’s residence and found five medium ziploc plastic baggies containing a white crystalline substance inside.

Also found during the search were numerous paraphernalia such as a glass pipe, numerous ziploc plastic baggies, some of which were cut, and sharp end straws. A handgun was also found.

During questioning at the police station, “Letuligasenoa stated the street value of the methamphetamine found at his home was about $65,000 to $75,000”, according to court documents. He also stated he had sent about $45,000 to his main source in the United States about a week earlier via Western Union.

Samoa News reporters Ausage Fausia and Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.


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