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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

MAN CHARGED FOR ALLEGEDLY POKING MINOR’S BEHIND

Fiafia Mata’u made his initial appearance in the District Court yesterday morning on allegations that he poked a young girl’s behind with his finger while under the influence of alcohol on Saturday at the Market place.

The defendant is charged with public peace disturbance, however the government is conducting further investigations as to whether or not additional charges are warranted in this case.

According to the government’s case, the victim, who is 11 years old, was bending over on a table at the market place when she felt someone poking her behind through her clothes. It’s alleged when the victim looked, she saw the defendant.

The police were then contacted for assistance. The defendant was arrested from the market place the day in question. Assistant Public Defender Donna Clement represents him while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe.

NAOMI MAVAEGA ENTERS GUILTY PLEA

Naomi Mavaega will be sentenced on November 29, 2012 after she entered a guilty plea before the High Court yesterday morning. The woman was initially charged with stealing and fraudulent use of a credit device.

However in a plea agreement the defendant pled guilty to fraudulent use of a credit device while the government moved to dismiss the stealing count. The fraud count is a class D felony punishable up to five years in jail, fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to the amount gain, up to $20,000 or both fine and imprisonment.

Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin represents the defendant while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde. According to the plea agreement that was read in court the defendant admits that on August 26, 2011 the victim was at the hospital and was talking to Mavaega, while the victim’s purse was in between them. She admits that when her phone rang she got up grabbed her purse along with the victim’s wallet and went home.

The plea agreement that was read in court states that the defendant further admits that she used the $40 that was in the wallet and attempted to use the victim’s credit card to purchase tires to pay for $450 that she owed a taxi stand. The defendant’s attempts failed after the credit card showed that it was stolen.

According to the plea agreement the defendant agreed to pay back $40 to the victim for restitution. Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the plea agreement and ordered a pre-sentence report in this matter.

ALLEGED ATTACKER FIGHTS HIS CASE IN JURY TRIAL

A man is facing second-degree assault following a fight in Pago Pago several months back and he vehemently denies the government’s allegations and will be fighting his case before a jury in a trial scheduled for April 29, 2013.

Vaimalu Lameta who’s held on bail of $10,000 is charged with second-degree assault, a class D felony punishable with up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

The defendant appeared in court for his pre-trial conference where his lawyer Assistant Public Defender Mike White asked the court for a date to set this matter for a jury trial.

According to the government’s case, on July 30, 2012 a man walked into the Central Police Station and reported the defendant allegedly assaulted him.

The complaining witness told police he was engaged in a basketball game with the defendant. It’s alleged the defendant told the victim they needed to talk, and then the defendant punched the complaining witness in the face.

The court filings did not specify what prompted the alleged fight.

NEGOTIATIONS FOR BUS DRIVER CHARGED IN DEATH OF ELDERLY MAN

Plea negotiations are ongoing between the government and the bus driver who operated an aiga bus, which allegedly struck an elderly man who died.

Reino Esera, who is facing homicide by vehicle, careless driving, general duty and failure to yield right of way for pedestrians was in court yesterday morning for his pretrial conference. Assistant Public Defender Mike White informed the court that negotiations are continuing in this matter.

He asked the court for a two-week continuance to determine whether this case will come to a resolution. Chief Justice Michael Kruse granted the request and scheduled another pre-trial conference on October 29, 20013.

Homicide by vehicle is a class D felony which is punishable up to five years in jail, a fine of $5,000 or both, while careless driving, general duty and failure to yield charges are class B misdemeanors which are punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.

According to the government’s case, witnesses at the scene said the victim was crossing the road using the crosswalk and was struck by an aiga bus that was heading eastbound. Police attained written statements from three witnesses who saw the incident.

One witness who was sitting in front of the CBT store said the victim had almost gotten to the other side of the crosswalk when the aiga bus, which was allegedly speeding, struck the victim with the bar handles attached to the bus.

The defendant told police that when he was approaching the Laufou Shopping Center, he fell asleep behind the wheel while the vehicle was still in motion.



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