Three charged in beating death sentenced to twenty months in jail
The three defendants charged in the beating death of Sio “Chico” Faumui last year June have been sentenced to serve 20 months at the Tafuna Correctional Facility. Sentencing for Ne’emia Poamo, Migo Misa and Sefo Siaulaiga was handed down by Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond, who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judges, Mamea Sala Jr. and Muasau Tasina Tofili.
Poamo, Misa and Siaulaiga pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide, a lesser charge, amended from second degree murder, the original criminal count they were facing. Poamo and Misa are represented by Assistant Public Defenders Mike White and Leslie Cardin while David Vargas represents Siaulaiga.
According to the plea agreement that was read in court during the hearing, each defendant admitted to punching Sio on the face, which led to his death.
The judges deliberated for more than half an hour prior to handing down sentencing and the Associate Justice noted it was not an easy task deliberating the sentencing for the defendants in this case.
“The criminally negligent homicide actually fits the circumstances in this case; obviously a melee developed and as a result a life was lost,” he said. The AJ added that although there is evidence that points to the victim initiating the incident, no loss of life should have occurred.
Two weeks ago Siaulaiga first apologized to the family of Sio Faumui, noting that he’s certain that there is nothing he can do to bring back the deceased. He apologized to the court and his family for his disobedience, which led him before the court, but pleaded with the court for another chance to return home and take care of his parents and family.
He also admitted before the court that he had punched Sio’s face many times. “I joined a fight that broke out, in which I punched the man (Sio) on his face repeatedly,” he said.
His attorney Dave Vargas told the court that he agrees with the recommendations made by the probation office, to place the defendants on probation and have them serve 20 months in jail. He added that his client had been gainfully employed when the incident occurred.
Vargas noted that the death was a tragedy, however he does not believe that any of the three defendants intended for this incident to happen. “Alcohol was the primary motivating factor, alcohol is the cause of this case,” he said. The defense attorney also noted that if the court wishes to have Siaulaga serve his probation in Samoa, the court should consider that Siaulaga does not have family in Samoa and his entire family is here in the territory.
Vargas also added that each defendant should pay the amount of $123.20 each for restitution.
Poamo apologized to the court, his parents, his village and church and also to the family of the deceased. He asked the court to please consider his request to return to Hawai’i to further his education and straighten out his life.
Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley, attorney for Poamo, also implored the court to take the recommendations made by the probation office. She reiterated Poamo’s wish to return to school to complete his eduction, given that he had not graduated from high school. She added that Poamo is a first time offender and has no criminal record.
The court heard from Poamo during his plea hearing, that he punched the deceased five times. “I got there during the fight and I punched the man (Sio) in the face five times and after that I left, while there were other men involved in the fight.”
The last defendant to take the stand was Migo, who noted that he had squandered his life away while being incarcerated at the Tafuna Correctional Facility. He expressed remorse for what he did, saying, “The time spent inside the jail has taught me a huge lesson.”
Migo apologized to the deceased’s family, the court, the government, his family, wife and children for his actions. He pleaded with the court for leniency in the sentencing. During his guilty plea hearing, Migo was the first to admit in open court that he punched the victim on his face.
Assistant Public Defender Mike White told the court that Migo has anger issues and he was not able to control his anger the day of the incident. He asked the court to please consider the probate report recommendation — sentencing the defendant to 20 months in jail.
Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop, said that although the apologies rendered are sincere, this does not take away the fact that it was by their actions that a productive member of society is gone.
Richmond sentenced the defendants to five years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended, and they were placed on probation under certain conditions. Each defendant will serve 20 months without any release unless ordered from the court, or for genuine medical reasons. They are credited for time already served since their incarceration in June 2011. They were ordered to undergo anger management courses, arranged by the probation office and if there is a fee, each defendant must pay that fee.
The defendants were also ordered not to consume alcohol or take any drugs, nor are they allowed to enter any bars or taverns, or congregate with people who are consuming alcohol. They will be subject to random testing.
Richmond noted that Migo and Sefo have immigration problems and was ordered to attain a legal status 30 days after their release from jail. The defendants were also ordered to pay restitution of $369.51 and that is be paid prior to their release, along with a fine of $2,000 each, which is payable within six months of their release from jail. The defendants were also ordered to visit the probation office regularly.
In the meantime the fourth defendant, Fa’afetai Siaulaiga in this case was recently charged with criminally negligent homicide and his case is pending in High Court before Chief Justice Michael Kruse.
The defendants assaulted Faumui of Iliili with their hands and left him unconscious about 15 feet from the main road in Malaeimi.
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