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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

ARRAIGNMENTS

The four young men charged in connection with the stoning of several police vehicles, which injured a senior cop last year in Nu’uuli, were arraigned before the High Court yesterday morning.

Vani Atafua, Siaosi Laulu, Benjamin Maybir and Iosefa Falealo have denied the charges of property damage and public peace disturbance against them. The three juveniles involved are also charged with first degree assault and property damage.

Pre-trial conference for the defendants has been scheduled for April 12, 2012. The defendants were arraigned before Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond.

 According to the government’s case the juveniles threw the rocks onto a vehicle which was driven by police officer Lt. Fasi Ta’ase. The rock landed on the cop’s face, injuring his eye. Court documents state that Lt. Fasi was patrolling in the Nu’uuli area when his vehicle was stoned.

The defendants are alleged to have stoned three police vehicles, a van, an SUV and a sedan the same night.

The van had huge dents on the rear side as a result and the damage is estimated at $1,100 for repair, while $950 is needed to repair the damage to the sedan.

Court filings also say some of the defendants allegedly stoned an aiga bus on the night in question.

The defendants are being held on $10,000 bail each, and are being represented by the Public Defender’s office while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.

SAGELE SAGELE

A man who drove his children to the hospital while his driver’s license was suspended following a DUI last year will be sentenced on April 12, 2012.

Sagele Sagele of Iliili pled guilty to felony driving, which carries a maximum jail time of up to five years in jail. 

The plea deal between the defendant and the government was accepted by District Court Judge John Ward. Sagele told the court that he was taking his children to the hospital for an appointment and there was no one to drive them.

Ward reminded the defendant that despite recommendations made by both lawyers, the court has the last discretion and if the court imposes a sentence more extreme than what the lawyers had recommended the defendant cannot come later on and withdraw his guilty plea.

The District Court Judge added that by statute it is mandatory for anyone convicted under this law to serve at least 90 days in jail. The defendant assured the court that he’s well aware of this.

Ward ordered a probation report for the matter and also asked the defendant  to get a letter from his employers, so the court can determine if the defendant could be granted work release.

CALVIN IOAPO

An intoxicated man accused of going into his neighbor’s home and removing a DVD player spent the weekend in jail and made his initial appearance before the District Court on Monday.

Calvin Ioapo is facing public peace disturbance, however the government is further investigating this matter.

Court filings state the defendant, who was intoxicated, went to his neighbor’s house to see about a DVD player that was on sale. The neighbor told police the defendant said he has money with a friend that lives in the same area and he would go get it, however the defendant grabbed the DVD player and took off on foot and the neighbor reported the matter to police.

Police then went to the defendant’s house and asked for whereabouts of the DVD player, however the defendant said he has no knowledge of a DVD player. Police said they are still investigating this matter.  

PIO FAGAAUTAU

Pio Fagaautau, who’s facing first-degree burglary and felony stealing is scheduled to reappear in High Court on April 2, 2012.

The defendant has been charged in connection with a burglary in Amaluia December 2011, and appeared in the High Court yesterday.

The matter was rescheduled at the request of Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin who told the court that two more weeks are needed for further negotiations.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the request and scheduled the matter for April 2, 2012.

According to the government’s case, the defendant allegedly broke into a home in the wee hours of December 7, 2011 and took off with several cell phones, shoes and money. The defendant was caught when a family member woke up and Fagaautau was in the house. The government claims the defendant was intoxicated when the incident occurred.

The defendant is being held on bail of $15,000.



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