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Court Report

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HEAVY PRESENCE OF POLICE AT DISTRICT COURT

There was a heavy presence of detectives from the Criminal Investigation Division at the District Court yesterday morning, with rumors of threats against a police officer circulated. Samoa News understands a relative of a female juvenile who was arrested over the weekend threatened a police officer.

Assistant Attorney General Terrie Bullinger told Samoa News the female, aged 16, allegedly went to the store with Unutoa Vaiomata Emotu, aged 18, late Saturday night while both their faces were covered with handkerchiefs and they asked the cashier for beer and cigarettes.

The cashier refused to give them beer and the two girls ran outside the store and took off in their car.

According to the government’s case, the same night police received a call from the juvenile’s relative asking police who it is that was investigating this matter and threatened to shoot the police officers involved in the case.

It’s alleged that Unutoa’s father contacted police for assistance after his daughter had not returned home. Police searched and found Unutoa with the juvenile in the vehicle they used earlier while at the store.

The police arrested both girls, placed the juvenile at the Juvenile Detention center and took Unutoa to the Tafuna Correctional Facility. The government is looking into filing additional charges in this matter pending their investigation.

NIKOLAO FA’ASALA MOTIONS FOR SUPRESSION OF EVIDENCE

Nikolao Fa’asala a retired Post Office employee accused of stealing in 2009 money and postage stamps belonging to the Post Office has filed another motion with the court. The motion was filed through the defendant’s lawyer Mark Ude.

Fa’asala is charged with embezzlement, stealing and responsibility for the conduct of another to commit forgery. He’s out on bond of $5,000.

Last month Ude filed for the court to dismiss the case against his client noting lack of jurisdiction, which the court denied.

In this motion Ude is asking the court to grant a motion suppressing evidence the government intends to use at trial.

Ude said the prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna filed a pleading on May 2, 2012 stating the government’s intention to use evidence from the defendant’s discipline file. “Such usage of the defendant’s discipline file is not authorized under the agreement set forth in the Agreement between the United States Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO 2006-20010,” said Ude.

Ude filed a memorandum of Points and Authorities in support of the motion and after providing several in his motion, Ude provided a website where the 474 page document of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between American Postal Workers Union and the U.S. Postal Service is available.

During the hearing yesterday, Chief Justice Michael Kruse told the defendant the court will not be bothered to go on the internet looking for what he pointed out in his motion.

The court took the motion under advisement.

MACHETE ATTACKER SENTENCED TO 20 MONTHS

Arthur Blake who struck another man with a machete was sentenced to serve 20 months in jail. Chief Justice Michael Kruse who was accompanied on the bench with Chief Associate Judge Logoai Siaki and Associate Judge Fa’amausili Pomele handed down sentencing for Blake.

Blake apologized to the victim, the court and the government for his actions and noted that he’s fully remorseful for what he did.

Public Defender Ruth Rich Fuatagavi pleaded with the court to place her client on a probated sentence. The defendant has served almost 18 months at the Tafuna Correctional facility.

She said the defendant is well aware that the incident could have ended badly for everyone involved and while this does not excuse Blake’s actions, there are a lot of circumstances involved. “He (Blake) was a victim of a beating prior to this incident and that beating led to this incident,” said Fuatagavi.

The public defender told the court the defendant needs help with life in general. She added there would and should have been many ways that help could have been available for the defendant, however he fell through the cracks and he has no family support.

Fuatagavi added that she understands the probation office has many obligations but if the defendant is placed under the guidance of the probation officer, the defendant will become a productive member of society.

She added the defendant should undergo an assessment with the Human Social Services as a condition of his probation.

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop concurred.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse said the court has taken into account, both parties’ recommendations along with the defendant’s apology.

Kruse said during the short recess he spoke with Chief Probation Officer Silivelio Iosefo about a similar case where the defendant in that case is on probation and is working at the Vocational Rehabilitation program.

The CJ sentenced the defendant to five years in jail however suspended execution of sentencing and placed Blake on five years’ probation under the following conditions. The defendant must serve 20 months in jail with credit for time already served. Kruse said however the court will not stay the two remaining months given the severity of the charges.

In addition Blake must remain a law abiding citizen, undergo and successfully complete anger management classes. Kruse also said if the defendant is referred to voc-rehab he must attend and successfully complete the program to which he’s assigned.

Blake was also ordered to attend any mental evaluation appointment either with the hospital or the Department of Health.

Kruse added that given the incident where the defendant was a victim of a beating, and that alcohol was involved in that case, the court ordered the defendant not to consume alcohol or controlled substance while on probation or associate with those who do.

Blake was initially charged with attempted first-degree assault and public peace disturbance. However in a plea deal with the government the defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, which was amended from attempted first-degree assault while the remaining charges were dismissed.



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