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Motion for new trial denied in case of man serving 20 years

reporters@samoanews.com

Chief Justice Michael Kruse has denied a motion for new trial in the case of Pati Lepou, an inmate who is serving a 20 year sentence, following his conviction from a jury trial after he and three inmates escaped from the Tafuna Correctional facility in January 2010 and assaulted an ANZ bank security guard.

In this matter, Lepou had been found guilty of three felony charges, first degree robbery, escaping from custody and first degree assault.

Lepou’s motion was filed through his lawyer Mark Ude, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.

Ude noted that the basis for the motion of a new trial is the inability of the victim to properly identify the Defendant as the perpetrator of the crime, as well as the presence of masks that none of the felon witnesses admitted to wearing, nor did the Government have such masks entered into evidence so as to connect Lepou to the criminal acts. 

Lepou maintains that he is innocent of the crimes asserted by the Government in regards to his involvement. He also requested the Court to review the imposition of sentence to serve consecutively as opposed to serving concurrently with the earlier sentence for which Defendant is presently incarcerated. 

He also requested that the Court consider both probated and concurrent sentences so that he be given credit for time served.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

Assistant AG Reyna noted in her motion the defendant failed to establish that the court committed an error during the trial, or that an error was prejudicial to the defendant.

She further stated that the defendant’s motion is full of general allegations and bald-faced assertions that do not provide the particularity which a motion for new trial requires.  

Reyna added that the co-defendants admitted their involvement as well as Lepou’s involvement in the alleged crime and the defendant was identified in court by all three co-defendants as the fourth person who committed the alleged crimes.

In regard to the defendant’s argument for sentence, Reyna pointed out that the sentence imposed by the court appears to be a motion for reconsideration of sentence; and that ordinarily sentencing errors are properly brought before the Appellate court only.

The government moved for the court to deny the motion.

COURT DECISION

The Chief Justice granted the government’s motion to deny the defense’s motion for new trial.

Lepou was sentenced to 15 years for robbery, 15 years for first degree assault, to be served concurrently and five years for the escape charges to run consecutively with the 15 years for the robbery and assault, a total of 20 years.



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