FAASEGA MOANANU RELEASED FROM JAIL
A man accused of striking another man with a PVC pipe because the victim had slapped his son —who had given the victim a haircut while he was sleeping— was released from jail, after serving four months. The defendant Faasega Moananu last month pled guilty to second degree assault.
During sentencing before Chief Justice Michael Kruse, the defendant apologized and quoted bible verses to substantiate he was fully remorseful. Moananu informed the court his actions were not intentional, however he was overcome by the devil, which has led him before the court.
Moananu sought forgiveness from the victim and his mother and also apologized to his wife and family. He said given his unspoken title as the head of his family and a deacon in his church, Moananu asked the court for a second chance so he can carry out his duties not only to his family but also his church. Moananu said his actions will not be repeated.
The defendant’s wife also took the stand and pleaded with the court to allow her husband to return home. Assistant Public Defender Michael White told the court he believed the defendant is sincerely remorseful, and his actions were not intentional. White also said he had committed the crime because he was protective of his son, and that is what led him to break the law.
White asked the court for a probated sentenced for Moananu, however Assistant Attorney General Tony Graf said this is a serious matter and the defendant should be jailed for a year. Graf stated the defendant had continued to strike the victim while the victim was apologizing.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse asked the prosecutor if there’s enough room at the Tafuna Correctional Facility, to which Graf responded, maybe there’s still space at the jail.
Kruse then asked the prosecutor if he’s considered the financial predicament the government is in and Graf responded yes.
The Chief Justice then sentenced the defendant to five years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant placed on probation for a period of five years under the condition that he serves 20 months in jail, which was also stayed. Kruse warned the defendant he must remain a law abiding citizen, and if not, he will be remanded back into the custody of police. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $222 for the victim’s medical bill.
According to the government’s case, when the victim noticed that the defendant’s son had cut his hair while he was asleep, he slapped the defendant’s son.
The victim was trying to explain why he slapped the boy to the defendant, however the defendant attempted to choke the victim, at least three times.
Court filings say, the victim kept apologizing yet the defendant allegedly grabbed a long metal object and struck the victim on his left arm several times and also struck the victim on the head, causing the victim to become unconscious.
SENTENCING IN ARSON CASE POSTPONED
Chief Justice Michael Kruse has postponed the sentencing for Tilotilo Opelu, who pled guilty to Arson, after the defendant’s attorney, Public Defender Douglas Fiaui pointed out that to date there has been no estimation of the amount of restitution required for this case.
Opelu was initially facing charges of Arson, third degree, Property Damage first degree and Burglary first degree, however, in a plea agreement the defendant pled guilty to arson while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.
According to the government’s case, hours after the StarKist warehouse was on fire, the defendant’s wife arrived at the scene and informed police officers that her husband Opelu contacted her via cell phone telling her he had burned the StarKist warehouse.
During the course of the investigation, police officers sought information from the taxi driver, who had transported the defendant — the taxi was parked in the area prior to the fire incident.
The taxi driver told police he had received a call from Opelu to pick him up from the StarKist warehouse, to go to the store.
Court filings say that on the way to the store, Opelu allegedly told the taxi driver he had set the warehouse on fire, but his lighter got wet after the sprinklers in the warehouse were automatically activated by the smoke in the warehouse.
It’s alleged upon returning from the store with a new lighter, the defendant instructed the taxi driver to drop him (Opelu) at the fence and wait for him. Court filings say, Opelu then allegedly gave the taxi driver $19.20 and a pair of earrings and instructed the driver to wait for him. The taxi driver told police when the defendant exited his vehicle at the StarKist gate, and he (the taxi driver) saw police officers patrolling the area, he left.
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