DRIVER IN VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CASE ENTERS GUILTY PLEA
An Asian man, who was the driver of a vehicle that ran over a five-year-old who later died, has entered into a plea agreement with the government. The Attorney General's office charged Chung Lee with Homicide by Vehicle which he pled guilty to, however Chief Justice Michael Kruse took the plea under advisement. Kruse has also scheduled a sentencing day for this matter.
A vehicular homicide charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000 and includes traffic citations of careless driving and speeding. According to the government’s case, the incident occurred last year on Nov. 1, 2013, when police were informed a child who had been transported to the hospital had been struck by a vehicle in front of the F&Y Fast Food store, across from Forsgren’s at the Laufou Shopping Center.
Upon arriving at the scene, the owner of the restaurant pointed out to police the driver of the vehicle, Lee of Amaluia — who was sitting on a chair outside the restaurant.
Court filings say Lee told police he was dropping off fish for his friend, who owns the restaurant and when he passed F7Y Fast Food, he made a quick wide right turn from the Laufou parking area to the cemented driveway/sidewalk immediately in front of the store entrance. Lee stated he did not see anything and then he heard a banging sound…”
It’s alleged people ran towards the vehicle and told Lee to back up and he backed up the vehicle. “The impact pushed the baby underneath the vehicle and trapped him between the vehicle's front right tire and the concrete driveway/sidewalk,” the court affidavit states.
According to the government’s case, Lee did not have any tint on the windows to obstruct or interfere with his view from inside the vehicle.
Also, police noted Lee was issued a traffic citation for speeding earlier that same day, just an hour before the incident. Prosecuting this matter was Deputy AG Mitzie Jessop while the defendant is represented by Matailupe Leupolu.
UNCLE ARRESTED AND CHARGED IN CONNECTION WITH SEX CASE
A man accused of impregnating his wife’s niece, who is a minor, has been charged with statutory rape (engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor) and endangering the welfare of a child. The man, who’s being held on bail of $50,000 is represented by the Public Defender’s office, while prosecuting for the government is Assistant Attorney General Tiffany Oldsfield.
Court filings say that the incident came to light when it was reported to police that a 15- year-old girl from Aua was pregnant by her uncle.
Court filings say the defendant was arraigned in High Court last week, where he denied the charges.
It’s alleged the victim was staying at the defendant’s residence because she was attending high school. When the incident came to light, it’s alleged the defendant apologized to the victim’s family for what happened.
LADY NAOMI CREW MEMBER SIGNS PLEA OFFER FROM ASG
Lady Naomi crew member, Liki Kerisimasi, who was charged along with Fatu Vagana for smuggling marijuana into the territory last year, has accepted and signed a plea agreement offered by the government.
Kerisimasi and his co-defendant were each charged with unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Defendants are being held on bail of $50,000 each. Kerisimasi is scheduled to be in court tomorrow for his change of plea hearing. At that time, details of the plea will be read in open court.
According to the government’s case, Vice and Narcotics were informed of alleged illegal activities going on at Vagana’s residence in Aoloau.
A search warrant was executed on Vagana and police began surveillance on him when the Lady Naomi arrived in Port. Court filings say Vagana picked up Kerisimasi at the wharf when all the passengers were through with their clearance from Immigration and Customs.
Police found in the vehicle three bundles which tested positive for marijuana. According to the government’s case, when police questioned Kerisimasi he said he came from Apia with the package to be delivered to “someone in American Samoa, who would be calling him.”