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Tavale pleads guilty in death of his one-year old son

reporters@samoanews.com

A firefighter has entered a guilty plea in connection with the death of his one-year old son two years ago in a traffic incident.

Iuliano Tavale of Leone, a fireman with the local Fire Bureau under the Department of Public Safety was charged with Manslaughter and Homicide by Vehicle.

Tavale pleaded guilty to the amended charge of criminally negligent homicide, a class D felony punishable with up to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000 or both fine and jail term, while the government motioned to have the remaining count dismissed.

According to the plea agreement that was read in court, by Tavale’s guilty plea he admits that on July 25, 2010 he failed to secure his son in a child safety seat while driving a truck, that he tried to push his son back into a seated position and jerked his steering wheel causing the child to hit his head on the dashboard.

As a result the child sustained fatal injuries and the defendant did not immediately take his son to the emergency room for treatment.

According to the plea, the defendant further admits that his son died on July 26, 2010. The proximate cause of his son’s death is that he failed to secure his son in a child safety seat and failed to immediately take him to seek medical treatment.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse read laws about child restraint, a person having the duty to render aid to someone injured in the operation of a vehicle that he is in, and it is a parent’s responsibility to care for their child.

The Chief Justice told the defendant that if the court accepts his guilty plea and renders sentencing and it is not what was recommended by the government and defense counsel the defendant is not allowed to come back to the court to withdraw his guilty plea.

Kruse accepted the plea agreement, ordered a probation report and scheduled sentencing in this matter on December 21, 2012. According to the government’s case, this incident came to light when CID Captain Lavata’i Ta’ase Sagapolutele received a written report from LBJ Emergency Room’s Dr. James Marrone, regarding a suspected case of child abuse.

Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin represents the defendant while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.



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