Court Report



Wayne Motu will be sentenced on October 25, 2012 after entering a guilty plea as part of his plea agreement with the government. Motu was initially charged with resisting or interfering with arrest, reckless driving and fraudulent use of vehicle plates.

However the defendant pleaded guilty to resisting arrest while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges. Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, accompanied by Associate Judges Mamea Sala Jr and Muasau Tasina Tofili accepted the plea agreement between the government and the defendant.

The resisting arrest count is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

According to the plea agreement which was read in open court, with Motu’s guilty plea, he admits that on August 21, 2012 he knowingly resisted a lawful stop and arrest when he sped up to a speed of roughly 60 miles per hour to evade officers — who were trying to effectuate a stop of his vehicle for speeding 39 mph in a 25 mph zone.

This forced officers to follow him for several minutes through several villages and down narrow roads, while Defendant passed other vehicles and nearly hit pedestrians who had to jump out of the way on the side of the road, creating a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to other persons.

According to the plea agreement the defendant knew officers were attempting to effectuate a traffic stop because they had their emergency lights on, and were following him at a high speed for some time until defendant’s vehicle came to a halt when it hit a banana tree.

Defendant admits that his conduct on that date was without legal justification or excuse.

Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe noted the defendant understands that both sides are free to make their own sentencing recommendations, and the defendant understands and accepts that sentencing recommendations are not binding on the court, which has the sole responsibility for determining an appropriate sentence within the limit of the law. 

The Associate Justice told the defendant that in the event the Court imposes a different sentence than that recommended by counsel, he will not be allowed to withdraw his plea of guilty, and the defendant noted that he understood. According to the government’s case, when Motu’s vehicle collided with a banana tree, the defendant took off on foot and the officers were unable to apprehend the defendant.

The defendant eventually turned himself in to the police station later that evening and explained to police he sped and fled because he was scared. Motu told police the license plate that was on the vehicle he was driving belonged to another vehicle, given that the registration to the vehicle he was operating had expired.


The government opted not to file felony charges against a mother who allegedly left one of her three children outside their apartment while under the influence of alcohol in Nu’uuli two weeks ago. In addition to public peace disturbance, the mother is facing third degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child, which are misdemeanors.

Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe said the mother, who has been released on her own recognizance, is scheduled to appear in court on October 18, 2012. The woman in her early twenties is represented by Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley.

According to the government’s case, police were contacted by the neighbors after a three-year old child was heard crying outside the apartment.

It’s alleged the mother was intoxicated. According to the government’s case the mother repeatedly denied that the child outside the apartment was her son, when asked by the police officers.

Child Protective Services with the Department of Human Social Services were called in by police on the day in question and they took the children under their care following the incident.

Assistant AG Philippe confirmed the children were released into the custody of their father, who was not at the apartment on that specific day given that he was attending a family meeting.


A Vaitogi woman who owns a dog described by police as a “vicious animal” following a dog bite incident involving a seven-year old girl is fighting her case in a jury trial. Matagi Savai’i is charged with possession of a vicious animal, a class D felony punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

Assistant Public Defender Mike White told the court the defendant wishes to have this case set for trial as they have not resolved this matter with the government. Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, accompanied by Associate Judges Mamea Sala Jr. and Muasau Tasina Tofili presided over the hearing and scheduled the jury trial for April 2, 2013.

According to the government’s case, on June 30, 2012 police received a call from the victim’s mother that her daughter was allegedly attacked by a dog named “Bruno” owned by Savai’i.

Emergency Medical Services was contacted for assistance and took the young girl in for treatment on her facial area and legs. It’s alleged the defendant said it was not her dog that attacked the young girl, however police pointed out that there were witnesses who identified that it was the defendant’s dog.

According to the government’s case, the police then informed the defendant that there are substantial steps that will be taken concerning her dog, and Savai’i agreed to cooperate.

The government states the police approached the Agriculture Department regarding the dog the same day of the incident. The dog was captured by Agriculture employees and it was ‘put down’ in the presence of police officers according to the report.


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