GAFATASI TAVEUVEU & LOGO FAAMAUSILI
The High Court has set the trial of Gafatasi Taveuveu and Logo Fa’amausili - both accused of the beating last month of another man in Se’etaga village - for June 4, 2012. The victim was hospitalized following the alleged beating and has since been released.
The defendants, each charged with second degree assault, have already entered not guilty pleas and remain in custody unable to post bail.
The pair were in court earlier this week for a pre trial conference hearing where their defense attorneys informed the judges that discussions are on-going with prosecutors to see if the case can be resolved. The defense attorneys also say that new information has surfaced from the government which is being investigated at this point.
While the court continued the pre trial conference to Jan. 9, with the hope that by this time a plea agreement would be reached, the court also set a trial date, to be canceled if a resolution is reached earlier.
The government filed this week an additional charge of misdemeanor third degree assault against Mariaiva Maalona, who was initially charged with public peace disturbance over an incident that occurred Nov. 19 in Pago Pago involving another woman.
According to court information Maalona got into a fight with the other woman, who bit the defendant’s ear, resulting in Maalona being admitted to LBJ Medical Center for treatment. The government waited until Maalona was released recently from the hospital before the additional charge was filed, while the government will soon file additional charges against the other woman.
Maalona returns to court on Dec. 22 for another hearing on this matter. No bail was set for the defendant, who was ordered not to make any contact with the other person, or violate any law while the case is pending in court.
The High Court this week sentenced 19-year old Puna Tusiga to 9 years imprisonment but execution is suspended and he was placed on 5 years probation under several conditions that include serving three years behind bars at the Territorial Correctional Facility.
He was also ordered to register as a sex officer, take the HIV test - as required by local law, continue to visit the mental clinic for required medication and attend all educational courses set by the government.
Tusiga - who has a mental disability that his father told the court started when the defendant was hit by a bus when he was 3 years old - was initially charged with child molestation, deviated sexual abuse, sexual abuse in the first degree and misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
But under a plea agreement, the child molestation charge was amended to sodomy to which the defendant entered a guilty plea, as well as a guilty plea to endangering the welfare of a child while the other charges were dismissed.
Charges against the defendant stems from a incident that occurred on Mar. 13 this year where he touched a 7 year old girl in a sexual manner and the victim hit the defendant's hands with a small Samoan broom.
Because of the mental issues faced by the defender, Public Defender Ruth Risch-Fuatagavi sought a probative sentence and for her client to attend any programs provided by the Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled that will further assist the defendant in his young life.
Assistant Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau said the government is not completely opposed to a probative sentence, as sought by the defense, but pointed out that the victim, in this case, is very young and this incident will scar her for the rest of her life.
The District Court this week sentenced local boxing coach Henry Tavake to one year probation after entering a guilty plea to misdemeanor third degree assault, for an incident that occurred last month in the District Court parking lot where Tavake punched another local boxing official Nikolao Mageo, who suffered minor injuries.
When asked by District Court Judge John Ward II for an explanation of what happened on the day in question, Tavake said he went up to the victim and whispered something in his ear and Mageo responded by standing in a position as if he was about to hit him, so he reacted by throwing a punch.
Tavake said the victim was a boxer in past years so he reacted quickly to protect himself. He also told the court that what happened that day was a misunderstanding and apologized for his actions, with a promise not to cause any more problems.
Ward told Tavake to use his skills as a boxer to teach the younger generation in this sport and not to assault another person.
As a condition of his probation, Tavake was ordered to attend and complete anger management counseling sessions and pay a $1,000 but $900 to be deferred on good behavior.
Samoa News reporters Ausage Fausia and Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.