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Defendant denies manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide charges

reporters@samoanews.com

Curtis Yandall of Pago Pago is denying the charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide against him in connection with the death of Darren Smith Tualaulelei on October 28, 2010.

Yandall was arraigned in High Court yesterday morning, after he waived his right to a preliminary examination hearing in the District Court Monday morning. He’s out on a surety bond of $7,500 which was reduced from the initial bail of $10,000. Pre-trial conference for Yandall has been scheduled for May 25, 2012.

According to the government, Tualaulelei fell off a truck that was driven by the defendant. Witnesses told police they were in a drinking session, and after the party the defendant went to drop off some people, and Tualaulelei got on the truck.

According to the victim’s friends, Tualaulelei fell off the truck and when a friend who was present conducted CPR, the victim was breathing again. The government claims that Yandall then dropped off Tualaulelei at his friend’s house.

The next day a friend took the victim to the hospital.

Court filing has it that when Yandall was questioned by police he said he was drinking with the victim and other boys and he was unaware that Tualaulelei was in the back of his truck.

In his testimony to police, Yandall said he panicked when he saw that the victim was injured, but the victim was still breathing and was making sounds like he was snoring. Yandall told police that he didn’t want to take the victim home because Darren’s parents might think he made him drink alcohol.

According to the government’s case the defendant said he did not want to take the victim to the hospital because the hospital might report the matter to police and he would be arrested for making the victim drink alcohol.

According to court filings, the victim was admitted to the hospital on October 29, 2010. The Surgical Clinic doctor Faiaoga Tosi said the victim had suffered a broken collar bone, and cracks on the base and left side of the skull. He said there was also a big blood clot on the victim’s head on the left side between the skull and the brain. The doctor said the pressure was building up, which caused the brain to move to one side. The victim remained unconscious and was hooked up to the respirator. Seven days later, he died.

The manslaughter charge carries a jail term of up to seven years or a fine of up to $5,000 or both, while the criminally negligent homicide is punishable up to five years in jail or a fine of $5,000 or both.

The defendant is represented by Sharron Rancourt while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.



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