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Couple’s sentencing set after pleading guilty to beating granddaughter

joy@samoanews.com

Grandparents charged in connection with the assault of their 8-year-old granddaughter "CM" will be sentenced January 14, 2014 after admitting before the court to the assault. Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Division arrested the grandparents, Taumaoe and Leoloa Fa’amasino. Samoa News points out there are three defendants in this matter and the third defendant, the victim’s uncle, has already entered a guilty plea and his case is pending for sentencing.
 
The 48-year-old grandmother admitted before the court that she used a hard object to strike her 8-year-old granddaughter, leaving bruises, while the 49-year-old grandfather admitted he strangled the girl.
 
The grandfather, Taumaoe, was facing three counts of second-degree assault while his wife was facing one count of second-degree assault; additionally they are both faced with endangering the welfare of a child.
 
In the plea agreement with the government, the defendant’s both pleaded guilty to third degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. An official reported the incident to police from the Matatula Elementary School in Alao and Detective Gaui Seanoa was assigned to investigate this matter.
 
Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for January next year. According to the government’s case, CM is an 8-year-old third grader who had been absent from school from Feb. 14 through Feb. 26, 2013. CM returned to school on Feb. 27, where it is alleged she had bruises on her face and arms, and a black eye.
 
The lead investigator spoke to CM, who said it was her uncle who assaulted her, the uncle told police that in February there was an incident where he beat her in the shower, say court filings. The victim told police the uncle performed similar beatings on her in the past with various objects, including iron cords, fan cords, sticks and pipes, claims the government in their case.
 
Court filings say, CM told CID Detectives that after the February incident, her grandmother Leoloa instructed the victim not to go to school until the bruises on her face healed.
 
The grandmother told police she observed the uncle assault CM, while the uncle told police that he has slapped CM on her hands and legs, but Leoloa, the grandmother, “constantly beats CM in a worse manner,” say court documents.
 
The government further claims that during the second time CID Detectives interviewed CM, she said her grandmother beat her also, but the grandmother told her to blame her uncle for the injuries from the February incident.
 
Court filings say, CM told police it was her grandmother who had beat her in February 2013 with a back-scratch stick and she was beaten many times with objects, including a stick, pipe or wire cord, and that afterwards the grandmother would keep her home from school until the bruises disappeared.
 
The government alleges that CM said her grandfather Tauma’oe strangled her neck with his hands after teachers from her school came to their house. Police spoke to the grandparent's neighbor, who said their family heard CM being beaten in February when the uncle was not at home, but the grandmother was home.
 
The government's case further claims that CID Detectives also spoke to an official at a local church, who told the police he had observed bruises on CM’s body and face several times during the time period November 2012 through February 2013. The church official said when he confronted the grandfather about it; the grandfather would get angry and refuse to talk.



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