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Court Report

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LOGOPATI FA’AMAUSILI AND GAFATASI TAVEUVEU

The High Court has accepted the plea agreement in the government’s case against Logopati Fa’amausili, but rejected a provision of the plea for co-defendant Gafatasi Taveuveu, and Chief Justice Michael Kruse has ordered all parties to be back in court this Friday.

Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna read the plea agreement  for the two defendants in court. The defendants, both out on bail, were initially charged with felony second degree assault and misdemeanor public peace disturbance following the assault of another man on Oct. 28, 2011.

However, the government amended the second degree assault to third degree assault, a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Fa’amausili has admitted to punching the complaining witness in the face.

When Chief Justice Michael Kruse asked what the victim had to say, Reyna said the victim was not willing to cooperate.

After questioning Fa’amausili, Kruse announced that the court accepts the guilty plea to third degree assault and set sentencing for this Friday.

According to the plea agreement the defendants and the victim got into a fist fight resulting in the assault charges. Kruse questioned the government on this particular “fist fight” issue when it came to Taveuveu, saying that the fist fight could have been in self defense.

Reyna requested a continuance in the plea hearing for Taveuveu and Kruse said the plea agreement provision for Taveuveu “as is, is rejected.”

Kruse ordered that the plea agreement for this defendant be amended and filed with the court by the middle of this week while all parties involved in Taveuveu’s case return this Friday. He also told the defense to prepare for sentencing on Friday if an amended plea is accepted by the court.

According to the Chief Justice, if the plea issue is not resolved, the court will set Taveuveu’s case for trial.

The defendants were accused of beating another man in Se’etaga village and the victim was hospitalized and later released following the beating.

FAIMA FRUEAN AND ROMEO PERETANIA

The High Court has continued to June 1, the pre trial conference hearing for Faima Fruean because the defense is still awaiting for discovery material from the Attorney General’s Office and some of the discovery has been sent off-island for testing.

The government’s case against Fruean, who is out on bail, was called last Friday for the pre trial conference but the defendant’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin sought a continuance, saying that the defense is still waiting for the government to provide discovery material, mainly test results that had been sent off-island.

The government prosecutor says they will try to put a rush on the test results, but the court voiced concerns with the delay in moving this case forward.

The defendant was arrested in late March this year along with Romeo Peretania, whose home was the subject of a police raid. Fruean was charged with possession of methamphetamine, while Peretania was charged with possession with intent to distribute.

Police found a stamp-size plastic baggie containing meth in a wallet belonging to Fruean, who told police that he took this contraband from a container owned by Peretania, the government alleges.

Fruean also allegedly told police that there were at least five other stamp size baggies with meth in the same container.

Peretania appeared in court last Friday for his pre trial conference and his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Michael White told the court that he had received a plea offer last Friday from the government.

However, White said he had not had time to full discuss it with his client, and therefore the hearing was continued to May 25. Peretania remains in custody unable to post bail.

RONALD WELLS AND PUNEFUOLEMOTU TUAOLO

The High Court last Friday continued to this morning the government case against, Ronald Wells, whose attorney Assistant Public Defender Michael White told the court that he had just received from prosecutor the plea agreement but didn’t have a chance to fully review it.

Wells was arrested March 27 along with Punefuolemotu Tuaolo after police found small and medium size ziplock baggies containing methamphetamine and loose marijuana in Tuaolo's car, according to court documents.

A search of Tuaolo’s home found an unregistered rifle and ammunition. Wells was with Tuaolo when police executed search warrant of Tuaolo's car and house. Wells is charged with methamphetamine possession and Tuaolo possession of meth and marijuana plus possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunitions.

Tuaolo’s case was also on the court calendar last Friday for a pre trial conference hearing; however, attorneys for both sides along with the defendant were called to the bench by Chief Justice Michael Kruse, after which the matter was continued by the court for Tuaolo to later next month.



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