Court Report



Defendant Tavita Tuisalo’o who has a record with the court, was sentenced to six months in prison and a $2,000 fine, under a plea agreement with the government, in which he pled guilty to amended charges with a lesser penalty.

The defendant apologized for his actions that landed him in front of the court and pled for another chance to care for his family.

Public Defender Ruth Risch Fuatagavi told the court the defendant has two minor children and is currently employed at a Day Care Center. The public defender and Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna asked the court for a probated sentence.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse took issue with the defendant working at a Day Care Center, however the Public Defender explained to the court, the defendant does maintenance work at the Day Care he does not care for children.

Tuisalo’o was sentenced to five years in jail and a fine of $2,000 however execution of sentencing was suspended and he was placed on five years’ probation under the condition that he serves 20 months in jail. Kruse then stayed the 14 months at TCF noting the defendant serve only six months.

The defendant was also ordered to remain a law abiding citizen, must undergo drugs and alcohol counseling, cannot consume alcohol or controlled substance and must visit the probation office regularly.

Another condition of his probation, the defendant upon release from jail will depart the territory and remain outside of the territory; however Kruse also stayed that order.  Kruse noted that even though the defendant came to the territory when he was young and is currently a permanent resident, who goes before the immigration board on the yearly basis for their identification, unless he is a US National, he is still considered a visitor into the territory.

“If you want to reside in the territory you must respect the laws of the Territory” said the Chief Justice to the defendant.

According to the government’s case the criminal charges against the defendant were the result of a raid conducted by the Vice and Narcotics Division of the Department of Public Safety. where a live marijuana plant was confiscated from the defendant’s home, live ammunition and drug paraphernalia.

Kruse was accompanied on the bench by Chief Associate Judge Logoai Siaki and Associate Judge Fa’amausili Pomele.


Subpoenaed TCF Warden Commander Lumana’i Maifea testified in the High Court that Correction Officers and sometimes trustee inmates dispense medication to the civilly committed who are housed at the Tafuna Correctional Facility despite being uncertified or untrained to do so.

The hearing was held for Andre Mata’utia’s case before Justice Lyle L Richmond and Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

“Those who are mentally challenged are housed by themselves for their safety and the safety of the other inmates and this was recommended by their doctor, while the other cells house five to six inmates per cell,” stated Maifea.

Warden Maifea explained that the correction officers are the ones who pass out the medication, however given that they are understaffed, the trustee inmates then dispense the medicines.

He added that there are times when inmates have side effects from the medication and yet they are following the dose that is prescribed by the physician.

Elisapeta Ponausuia, who identified herself as the Department of Health Acting Director, said they are looking at drafting a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Public Safety and Department of Human Social Services for ways that each department can assist those who are mentally challenged, and are housed at the TCF.

Ponausuia added that the DOH is willing to provide the training and go to the TCF to dispense meds for mentally-ill inmates.

Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr asked Ponausuia if DOH can start visiting the TCF to see the inmates. She responded yes, indeed.

Acting Medical Director at the Health Department Dr. John Tuitele also told the court the TCF in previous years sent the inmates to their clinics, however when the LBJ hospital hired psychiatrist Dr. Biukoto, the patients stopped coming. Now that Dr Biukoto has left the territory, the inmates are again going to the clinics said Dr. Tuitele.

Samoa News was told that following this hearing on Tuesday DOH physicians and nurses are now dispensing the medication to the civilly committed inmates.


A hearing impaired woman facing criminal charges in connection with the assault of an 11 year old boy, is now moved from the Trial Court to the Family Court.

Fualemalemalo Salatielu faces second degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child and private peace disturbance (PPD).

During her hearing yesterday before Chief Justice Michael Kruse, Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin explained to the court  that under the Juvenile Justice Act this matter is appropriate to be heard before the family court.

She added that the defendant is developmentally disabled, but before Cardin could finish her arguments, Kruse called the lawyers to the bench, including the defendant and the translator.

According to the government, the victim was arguing with his little brother when Salatielu intervened and punched the victim in the face. The victim fell down, and the defendant proceeded to kick the victim multiple times.  When the victim got up he ran outside, however the defendant followed him and threw a rock at the victim which landed on his nose.

The 11-year old boy was taken to the hospital, where he was admitted.

According to the government’s case the victim suffered a nasal bone fracture, with bruising and swelling. A sign language interpreter translated the court proceedings to the defendant.


Two men facing charges of rape denied the charges at their arraignment in the High Court yesterday.

The defendants in this matter are “John” also known as Lemisio Taetuli and the victim’s uncle, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim.

 According to the government’s case, the incidents came to light when the victim ran away from home and the victim’s cousin filed a complaint that the victim, who was 12 years of age when the alleged sexual incidents occurred, had run away.

Court filing states that the victim, now 14 years old, told the police that sexual incidents started between her and “John” also known as Lemisio Taetuli when she was 12 years old and her uncle, who was 32 years old, always touched her inappropriately and forced her to have sex with him.

Taetuli who is being held on bail of $50,000 is charged with rape, sodomy with a child, deviate sexual assault with a child, sexual abuse first degree and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to the government’s case, between August 2009 and February 2012 Taetuli performed oral sex on the victim and they had sexual intercourse on many occasions.

Court documents say the victim told police that when she was an eighth grader, the defendant forced her to perform oral sex on him in the bathroom, causing her to vomit, then afterwards gave her $20 and told the victim not to tell anyone.

According to the government’s case the defendant then had sexual intercourse with the victim many times, either in the bathroom or in Taetuli’s bedroom. Court documents state that Taetuli, admitted to police that he had oral sex and sexual intercourse with the victim when she was 12 years of age and he gave the victim money after they had sexual intercourse or oral sex.

In the government’s case against the uncle, the victim told police that between September and November 2009 she felt someone touching her breast while she was sleeping. According to the government’s case, the second incident occurred between August and September 2010, where the uncle forced the victim to have sexual intercourse and they continued to have sexual intercourse many times after the second incident.

The victim told police the last time she had sex with her uncle was in January 2012.  According to the government’s case the uncle also admitted to having sex with his niece in January 2012. The uncle is being held on $25,000 bail and is charged with rape, sexual abuse first degree and endangering the welfare of a child.

The defendants are both represented by the Public Defender’s office while prosecuting are Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop and Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe.


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