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Notice filed: ASG no longer seeks death penalty for Siaumau Jr.

reporters@samoanews.com

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop yesterday filed a “notice of withdrawal of intent to seek the penalty of death,” in the government’s case against Siaumau Siaumau Jr.  who is accused in the July 22, 2010 shooting death of Police Detective Lt. Liusila Brown and the attempted murder of another police officer.

A copy of the notice of withdrawal was served to defendant, Siaumau Siaumau Jr. and his lawyers, Assistant Public Defenders Leslie Cardin and Michael White.

This week marks two years since the tragic incident that took the life of the police officer in front of the temporary courthouse in Fagatogo.

Siaumau Jr is facing charges of murder in the first degree, two counts of attempted murder in the first degree on distinct victims, three counts of assault in the first degree against distinct victims, three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, two faculty distinct counts of unlawful possession of an unlicensed firearm and public peace disturbance.

A week after the shooting Jessop filed the motion seeking the imposition of the death penalty should the defendant be convicted of first-degree murder, given that sufficient circumstances existed to justify the imposition of the death penalty.

The High Court has yet to hold a hearing to address this particular motion.

The Deputy AG told Samoa News that after independently reviewing all the factors in the Siaumau case, as well as taking into consideration advice from Governor Togiola Tulafono and factoring in the court's order to pay $260,000 to the Public Defender’s Office to defend the case, the Attorney General's Office decided that withdrawal of ASG's intent to seek the death penalty was the best course of action in this case.

Samoa News asked Jessop — given the notice seeking to withdraw the death penalty — will the government move to expedite court proceedings on this case?

Jessop replied “Like all criminal cases, we will continue to engage in plea negotiations with Siaumau's attorneys in an effort to reach a resolution that is in the best interest of justice.”

The government filed the notice yesterday at 9 a.m. following a hearing regarding the government’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s order to give specific funds to the PD office to adequately defend Siaumau because they were seeking the death penalty.

During this hearing, Jessop told the court that the government’s reconsideration motion is moot, given the government will be filing the proper motion seeking to withdraw the death penalty in Siaumau’s case.

Associate Justice Richmond told the government something needs to be filed before the court regarding the issue.

Togiola recently told Samoa News that when the Attorney General’s office sought his views on the death penalty he immediately said no.

He said that he’s made known to the AG’s office he will be seeking to revoke the death penalty in the local statute.

“We are a Christian country and there should not be a death penalty jurisdiction because it is not right to be seeking to kill people as a penalty for any law violation.

“The statute has the death penalty, however it does not provide the mechanism to carry out the execution, which makes no sense for it to even exist in the statute,” he told Samoa News.

White, one of the Assistant Public Defenders representing the defendant said he believes that withdrawing the death penalty against Siaumau Jr is the right thing to do and declined to further comment on this matter.

In the meantime, Jessop said the government has spent more than $20,000 in this matter, and the additional $260,000 is just too much for the government to bear.

Cardin and White have already completed death penalty re-certification training off island, which was deemed necessary by the court, and paid for by the government.



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