VILITONI TUIA CHARGED FOR ALLEGEDLY STEALING A CELL PHONE
A Tafuna man accused of stealing a cell phone from Bluesky’s display case last December made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday. Vilitoni Tuia also known as “Sony” has been charged with one count of stealing, a class C felony which is punishable with up to seven years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
According to the government’s case, on Dec. 13, 2013 an employee of Bluesky Communication contacted the police upon reviewing security camera footage of the defendant stealing a Nexus 5LG touchscreen cell phone valued at $499 from the display case in the Bluesky store at Laufou Shopping Center.
The police report was prepared and forwarded to the CID office and Detective John Seumanutafa was assigned to investigate the case. Court filings say the defendant allegedly walked behind the counter and removed the cell phone from the display case, came back and sat next to a woman and told her that he works for Bluesky and he was the one doing the Roadshow for Bluesky.
The company employees confirmed with police the defendant is not an employee with Bluesky. In a written statement to police, the woman stated the defendant removed the cell phone and left with the phone the same day.
According to the government’s case, police spoke to the defendant, who confirmed he was present at Bluesky on the day in question, however he did not remember taking a cell phone from the store. Court filings also state there is a similar case pending in which the defendant is a suspect.
JAMES BARLOW ASKS COURT FOR BENCH TRIAL
Former ASCC instructor James Barlow, who is facing several criminal charges, including Driving Under the Influence (DUI), careless driving, driving without a driver’s license, endangering the welfare of a child, and aiding minors to break the law, has requested the High Court for a Bench Trial.
The case began as a traffic case and later became a felony case back in 2012. It had been set for a Jury Trial, however, during the status hearing, Barlow fired his attorney, Mark Ude, and asked for a continuance.
According to the government’s case, the defendant had a party with the three juveniles at his residence before heading onto the road. It’s alleged the defendant’s vehicle was pulled over by police early in November 2012 in Fogagogo, while the three students were present and allegedly intoxicated.
Barlow has denied the allegations against him and his next court hearing is set for January 24. It’s not clear whether the defendant will have come to a plea agreement with the government by then, or if the matter is going to trial. (The college terminated Barlow’s employment not long after he was facing criminal charges.)
Kruse has yet to rule on the defendant’s request for a bench trial.
SEFO LEGA PLEADS FOR LENIENCY
A Malaeimi man who stabbed another man with a knife was in court last week for sentencing, after he pled guilty to the assault charge. Sefo Lega, who has been custody since last year October, pled guilty to second degree assault. The assault charge is a class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, and/ or a fine of $5,000.
During the sentence hearing, the defendant apologized for his actions and told the court he’s full of remorse. Sefo asked the court to release him from jail to he can care for his mother, as he was the only one working in his family prior to the incident. He also sought forgiveness from the victim whom he stabbed.
Assistant Public Defender Mike White noted __the defendant has alcohol problems and recommended appropriate alcohol counseling. The prosecutor concurred with the defense attorney, noting that the defendant does have an alcohol problem.
The court recessed to determine the sentence, however upon returning to the bench they moved to postpone sentencing for two weeks. Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond noted that on the new sentencing day, the government must have the defendant’s sponsor and the Chief Immigration officer present to determine the defendant’s immigration status.
According to the government’s case, on Oct. 13, 2013 police responded to a call and upon arriving at the scene in Malaeimi, they were informed by the victim that Lega, who was intoxicated, had slashed him three times using a pocket knife.
The victim, who was taken to the hospital, sustained three stitches on each shoulder and three stitches on his neck as a result of the incident. Court filings say that during interrogation the defendant stated “the victim tried to stop a fight between him and other people and that’s when he took out the knife and slashed the victim.”