JURY TRIAL IN ATTEMPTED MURDER CASE UNDERWAY
Siatau Ofoia Jr. who’s facing second degree attempted murder, two counts of first degree assault, public peace disturbance and four traffic citations, as well as failure to give information, reckless driving, leaving the scene of the accident and failure to give immediate notice of an accident is fighting his case in a jury trial that got underway yesterday morning.
The criminal charges follow an alleged fight that occurred between the defendant and his brother-in-law last year.
Ofoia who’s out on bail of $100,000 is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White, while prosecuting this matter is Assistant Attorney General Julie Pasquale. As of 2 p.m., the court had yet to find a jury to hear this case.
The government is looking at calling four witnesses to the stand to testify on their behalf, and among those witnesses is investigating officer Detective Sgt Siliaivao Sea.
According to the government’s case on Apr. 8, 2012 police received a call about a man who was lying unconscious on the airport road. Police officers arrived at the scene and saw the victim lying unconscious and bleeding from his head. The victim also had an open wound on his back and left leg, say court documents.
According to court filings, witnesses told police the defendant was calling the victim, who is his brother-in-law, however the victim ignored him and this upset the defendant. It's alleged that Ofoia hit the victim with his vehicle, and when the victim fell, the defendant fetched a cricket bat and struck the victim on his head.
When police interviewed Ofoia, he said that he was driving when a male crossed in front of his car suddenly and he tried to avoid a collision by swerving, however he struck the young man. He said when he exited his vehicle, he found out it was his brother-in-law.
Police impounded the vehicle, along with the bat alleged to have been used in the alleged assault. Ofoia is on probation in connection with an assault case in Vaitogi several years ago.
MAN SENTENCED TO JAIL FOR RESISTING ARREST, SEX CHARGES DROPPED
A Filipino man charged in connection with a sexually related case was sentenced to 20 months in jail, as part of a five year sentence. Victor Liwan Tacloloy was initially charged with first degree sexual abuse, resisting arrest, third degree assault and private peace disturbance.
However in a plea agreement, the defendant pled guilty to resisting arrest, a class D felony which is punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both — while the government moved to dismiss the remaining three charges, including that of sexual abuse.
The plea agreement was accepted. Upon his guilty plea the defendant admitted that he resisted arrest when police attempted to take him into custody.
Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr., sentenced the defendant to five years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant placed on probation for five years under the condition that he serve 20 months in jail.
The charges against the defendant were initiated after the defendant engaged in a drinking session with an underage girl and it’s alleged that after the party, he touched the minor inappropriately. Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop is prosecuting this matter while the defendant is represented by Acting Public Defender Douglas Fiaui.
ERNIE TAO SIGNS PLEA DEAL WITH GOVERNMENT, THEN CHANGES MIND
Ernie Tao, facing charges of second degree assault on allegations that he assaulted his girlfriend, had signed a plea agreement with the government. However, he has changed his mind and will be fighting his case in a jury trial. The 23-year-old from Faleniu who remains in jail with bail set at $10,000 is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White, while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Julie Pasquale.
Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond has scheduled the jury trial for this case on Nov. 13, 2013.
According to the government’s case, police received a call from a security guard at the Bowling Alley regarding an assault in the parking lot. It’s alleged the defendant punched and kicked his girlfriend in the back and on the head and then he struck the victim on the head with a rock. The government claims the defendant was also assaulted by two men, who saw him beating up his girlfriend.
FORMER ASG EMPLOYEE ACCUSED OF STEALING, FORGERY CONSIDERS OPTIONS
Private Attorney Matailupevao Leupolu Jr. yesterday informed the court that a plea offer was handed over from Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde in the case of former government employee, Fiapapalagi Eteuati Letuli, charged on allegations of stealing and forging government checks for her personal use.
Matailupevao requested that the court give them more time to go over the plea and at the same time schedule a jury trial in case the defendant does not wish to take the plea offer. Kruse granted the request for a trial and set it for Jan. 6, 2014.
Letuli is facing eight counts of stealing and eight counts of forgery on allegations that she forged government checks from the American Samoa Economic Stimulus Recovery office (ASESRO). During Letuli’s pre-trial conference before Chief Justice Michael Kruse, her attorney asked for a 30-day continuance noting that he had just been retained and needed time to be familiarized with the case.
According to the government’s case, the investigation against Letuli was launched at the request of the ASESRO Director earlier this year, in light of allegations that the defendant had forged and cashed ASG payroll checks made out to another ASESRO employee, Gale Clarke, who was on leave without pay.
Court filings say that Letuli admitted she stole the money in order to pay loans, and church and family obligations. The investigator also spoke to Clarke, who said she was on medical leave without pay, and she did not consent for the defendant to process any paperwork to receive payroll checks, nor did she give the defendant permission to sign her name to cash the checks.
The government claims there were a total of eight checks issued, beginning Jan. 14, 2011 through Aug. 5, 2011 which totaled $7,860.65.
ROBBERY, ASSAULT CASE AWAITS BASIC DISCOVERY
A man accused of punching a woman and knocking her unconscious in an attempt to rob her is still awaiting the police report and witnesses’ statements in this case, and this was revealed during the pre-trial conference in this matter yesterday.
Michael Falaniko is facing charges of attempted robbery second degree, assault third degree and resisting arrest. Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin, noted a joint recommendation with Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe to continue this matter for 30 days to await the police report.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the request and scheduled this matter for Apr. 12, 2013.
According to the government’s case, on Dec, 21, 2012 police were contacted for assistance in Nu’uuli, due to a woman who was lying unconscious after an alleged assault.
Police responded to the call where a witness told the police, the woman was exiting her car when Falaniko punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground unconscious.
The witness further said, as the woman was lying unresponsive, she observed the defendant going through the woman’s pockets. It’s alleged that Falaniko attempted to grab what appeared to be a deposit bag, however he was unsuccessful because bystanders chased him away.
The witness told police that when Falaniko fled, the woman's sons ran after him in an attempt to locate where he was running. Court filings state when the police approached the defendant, they told him several times that he was being placed under arrest and should comply with their orders.
The record says the defendant refused to comply and he did not move towards the police officers. It's alleged three police officers pushed the defendant towards the police vehicle, but they were unsuccessful, and the defendant had to be carried into the police vehicle. Court filings state that when they questioned the defendant, he spontaneously explained that he was in the territory visiting from Utah.
Falaniko told police he had no money, no job and he was desperate to return to Utah.
It’s alleged that the defendant told police he saw the woman with a deposit bag and that’s why he attacked her. He admitted punching the woman, searching her pockets and attempting to take the bag.
THE NEW COMMENTS PROCESS
To make comments, you will need to register. You can register under your real name or use a 'screen' name. This way, people will be able to follow comments and make comments back and forth to each other. If you choose to use a 'screen name' no one will know your true identity. In either case, no email addresses will be available to anyone. It is an automated process. If you have questions, email: email@example.com
You currently are not logged in, please LOGIN to post comments.