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Court Report

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MAPU LEOTA JAILED FOR SEXUAL ABUSE

Mapu Leota, convicted of sexual abuse during a bench trial last week, was sentenced to six weekends in jail. The defendant’s lawyer Fiti Sunia asked the court to sentence the defendant to a probated sentence; however prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe recommended that the defendant serve some jail time.

Leota was arrested back in March for inappropriately touching his wife’s sister while she was sleeping with her children and husband.

District Court Judge John Ward sentenced the defendant to 120 days in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant placed on probation under several conditions placed by the court.

Leota was ordered to undergo 45 days in jail, however he will serve only six weekends in jail. Ward ordered the defendant to surrender himself at the Tafuna Correctional Facility on Friday at 6pm and he will be released on Sundays at 6pm.

Ward noted that alcohol is a factor in the incident and he ordered the defendant not to consume alcohol during his probation term; he’s also subject to random testing for alcohol in his system.

Leota was also ordered to stay away from the victim’s home. The defendant’s lawyer Sunia told the court the defendant will be residing in Leloaloa along with his family.

A fine of $1,000 was ordered, however Judge Ward deferred $900 upon the defendant’s good behavior. The defendant must remain a law abiding citizen.

According to the government’s case, the victim was sleeping when she felt someone touching her on her private part and when she woke up, it was Leota.

The police affidavit states the defendant lives behind the victim’s home and they share the same restroom, which is located in the victim’s home.

Police noted when they were booking the defendant for confinement, they could smell alcohol on his breath.

WIFE BEATER ENTERS GUILTY PLEA

A man who admitted in court that he struck his wife’s head with a piece of lumber will be sentenced July 19, 2012. Samoa News is withholding the name of the defendant to protect the identity of the victim involved. The defendant, who is from Pago Pago, was initially charged with second degree assault and private and public peace disturbance charges.

He entered a guilty plea to the assault charge while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

The plea agreement was accepted by Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr. The second degree assault charge is punishable up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

The Associate Justice told the defendant that if the court accepts his guilty plea and renders sentence different from the recommendations made by both parties, the defendant will not be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. The defendant replied he understood.

The defendant told the court that he had an argument with his wife and he struck her head with a piece of lumber during an argument.

Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin clarified with the court the defendant had an argument with his wife because the wife did not want the defendant to go out drinking.

Richmond asked the defendant if this was the case and he agreed.

The defendant has been released on bail of $5,000, and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag.

LAND DISPUTE CASE SET FOR JURY TRIAL

After numerous continuances in the government’s case against Sopi Senio facing first-degree assault on allegations that he struck another man with his vehicle over a land dispute, the matter is now set for jury trial.

The defendant has received a plea offer from the government however he did not take it. The matter was presided over by Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag told the court the government is ready to have this scheduled for a jury trial. Assistant Public Defender Michael White agreed with the prosecutor and asked the court for a jury trial date.

According to the government’s case, the incident occurred on December 3, 2011 in Leone, when the defendant and the complaining witness, who is his neighbor, had a disagreement over land. Senio is also facing property damage and public peace disturbance charges, which are misdemeanors.

Senio is denying the charges, and is out on bail of $25,000.

As a condition of his release the defendant was ordered not to make any direct or indirect contact with the complaining witness and to remain a law-abiding citizen. The jury trial is now set for November 27, 2012.

ANDREW PETER PLEA HEARING CONTINUED

Andrew Peter, accused of burglarizing a taxi that was parked in front of a store in Pago Pago where he allegedly took off with an iPhone, was present in the High Court this week for a change of plea.

Peter is being held on bail of $30,000 as he is charged with burglary, stealing and resisting arrest. The matter was presided over by Chief Justice Michael Kruse.

In the plea agreement that was read in open court, the defendant was to plead guilty to stealing and resisting arrest while the government moved to dismiss the burglary charge.

The plea hearing proceeded, however when the Chief Justice reached the part where he read the defendant his rights, he summoned the lawyers to the bench and rescheduled the plea hearing for July 17, 2012. Kruse noted that there’s something in the plea deal that needed clarification before the court proceeds with the deal..

Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin represents the defendant while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag.



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