Manu’a man facing five criminal charges related to burglary, assault
A Manu’a man made his initial appearance in the District Court last week following an incident in Manu’a two weekends ago. Ta’aga Tavale of Fitiuta, Manu’a is facing five criminal charges: first degree burglary, false imprisonment, trespassing, third degree assault and private peace disturbance.
The burglary count is a class B felony, punishable between five to fifteen years in jail, while false imprisonment is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 while trespassing is a class B misdemeanor which carries a jail term of up to six months, a fine of $5,000 or both, the third degree assault and private peace disturbance are both class C misdemeanors, punishable up to 15 days in jail, a fine of up to $300 or both.
According to the government’s case, on November 4, 2012 it was reported to police that while the victim was sleeping she was awoken during the wee hours to see the defendant standing over her.
The victim claims that she recognized the defendant because they reside in the same village. According to court filings, the victim told police the defendant had placed his hand over her mouth to prevent her from yelling, and was holding her down. It’s alleged the victim attempted to scratch the defendant on his face and yell for help.
The government claims the victim managed to grab her cell and was able to get away from the defendant, running to her neighbor’s residence and yelling out for help, and the neighbor let her into the house.
The neighbor told police that someone had knocked on his door yelling for help around 1:00 a.m., and when he opened the door, the victim was there crying and shaking. The neighbor said he and his wife managed to calm the victim down and then took her back to her house.
The victim told police she called the Manu’a substation and no one answered, so she contacted the Central Police Station and reported the alleged attack. According to the government’s case, on the same day, the victim’s son walked into the police station in Tafuna to report that his mother had called him from Manu’a to tell him she had been assaulted by the defendant.
Police contacted the defendant the same day of the incident, noting alcohol was on his breath.
The defendant refused to make a statement to police about the alleged incident.
Also in the police affidavit are allegations that this was not the first time the defendant had allegedly broken into the victim’s store.
The victim claims that back in 2005, before hurricane Olaf, she was sleeping and was awoken by the defendant standing in front of her wearing only “boxers”, and when he saw she had awoken, he fled.
The victim further stated that the second time was after hurricane Olaf when the defendant broke into her store and stole various items such as cigarettes and beer.
According to court filings, the victim told police she did not see him commit the crime, but she found out through the villagers. The government claims that the defendant’s mother approached the victim and admitted that her son had stolen the items. The mother apologized to the victim, and reimbursed her for all the items taken.
The victim claimed that she did not report the defendant to the police because they live in a very small village that she did not want to have any bad feelings between her and the defendant’s family.
The defendant is scheduled to come before District Court Judge John Ward on Tuesday to determine whether he will exercise his right to have a preliminary examination hearing to see if the government has sufficient evidence to have this matter bound over to the High Court.
The defendant is represented by Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley while prosecuting is Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop.
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