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reporters@samoanews.com

LAGA TUI JAILED FOR 40 MONTHS IN MACHETE ATTACK CASE

Laga Tui while intoxicated struck a male relative with a machete, and has been sentenced to 40 months in jail by the High Court. Originally charged with first-degree assault and public peace disturbance, a plea deal between the defendant and the government had him plead guilty to first degree assault, which is punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison.

Prior to sentencing, the defendant apologized to the court for his actions and noted he’s remorseful for what he did, saying that his actions have brought shame to his family name.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse who handed down sentencing noted that from the presentence report, the defendant may have been consuming ‘Tausala’ beer. Kruse recalled the Public Defender Ruth Risch Fuatagavi making a note to the Fono to look into laws regarding the high volume of alcohol in some beverages.

Assistant Public Defender Mike White, who represented Tui, told the court that the PD’s office has had discussions about this same issue, given the many alcohol-related cases they handle. He added that there are certain beer brands that have a high alcohol content level and could pose damage to brain development.

Kruse noted from the presentence report that Tui went to the victim’s home in the early morning hours of December 3, 2011 looking for food, while under the influence of alcohol.

The victim scolded the defendant for coming to his home while intoxicated, and he may have said something about the defendant’s father. Tui went home and retrieved the machete, then went to the victim and struck the victim on his head and shoulder. The victim was hospitalized for a week as a result, with a medical bill of $715.

Kruse sentenced Tui to ten years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant placed on probation for ten years under the condition that he serves 40 months in jail, departs the territory and remains outside the territory throughout the period of his probation. He must also pay restitution of $715 and remain a law abiding citizen while in the territory.

MANUMALO TEACHER ENTERS GUILTY PLEA

Manumalo science teacher accused of inappropriately touching a female student has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Dave Tupua was initially charged with false imprisonment and two charges of third degree assault for offensive touching, however in a plea deal with the government, the teacher pleaded guilty to third degree assault, a class C misdemeanor.  

During the plea hearing last Friday, Ward accepted the agreement and scheduled sentencing for the defendant on October 15, 2012. Ward also ordered a pre-sentence report prepared by the Probation officer for this matter.

According to the government’s case, the 13 year old victim, a student at Manumalo Baptist School, told police she had gone into the school’s science lab when the defendant approached her and stated “come here sweets”.

Court filing goes on to say the defendant made small talk with the victim while he was still holding onto her which prevented her from leaving.

It’s alleged the defendant asked the victim for the second time to “come here” and he allegedly pulled the victim closer to him and allegedly kissed her on the cheek. Victim told police that she could feel the defendant’s saliva on her face.

It's alleged then the victim pulled away and the defendant patted her buttocks. Victim told police that a similar incident happened with the defendant back in December 2011 before the Christmas break.

The defendant is represented by Barry Rose while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe.

PLEA DEAL FOR MAN FACING MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE

Iuliano Tavale, a local firefighter, facing charges of manslaughter and homicide by vehicle in connection with the death of his one-year old son has reached a plea agreement with the government in this matter.

Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin, lawyer for the defendant, told the court that the plea offer from the government has been accepted by the defendant.

However it has not been written and filed with the court as yet, and Cardin asked the court to schedule a change of plea date in this matter.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse granted the request noting the continuance was for the purpose of ongoing discussions between the parties.

A Manslaughter count is a class C felony that carries a jail term of up to seven years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. A Homicide by Vehicle count is punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine up to $5,000 or both.

Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde did not object to another continuance in this matter given that the defendant has taken the plea offer.

According to the government’s case, Tavale took his son to the hospital and told the doctor that he and his son were in a pickup truck when his son fell and hit his head on the dashboard and passed out.

The one-year old was placed on life support and died the next day. According to court documents, the autopsy performed on the victim by Dr. Ivy Clemente claimed the underlying cause of the hematoma was due to “blunt force injury” to the head.

Court documents say Tavale admitted his son was injured in the car he was driving, when he accidentally hit the brakes. The one-year old was not wearing a seat belt.

The defendant also admitted that he accidentally slapped his son hard several times prior to the incident.

Tavale is out on bail of $15,000, and will be appearing in court for his change of plea on September 18, 2012.

MR. AND MRS. MALAE DENY CHARGES AGAINST THEM

A couple held on $10,000 bail for each defendant has denied the charges against them when they appeared in the High Court Monday morning. The defendants are represented by Fiti Sunia while prosecuting is Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop.

Mr. and Mrs. Malae entered not guilty pleas to the charges of tampering with witnesses and concealing the offense. The charges stem from allegations that Tau Malae and his wife Miracle Malae removed two girls from the territory who are alleged victims in a sexually related case that is pending in the High Court against Tau Malae.

Each charge is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment up to five years, a $5,000 fine, or both.

The government’s first case against Tau Malae was scheduled to go to trial earlier this month, however the government moved to postpone the jury trial given that the government has charged the defendant and his wife with new criminal charges, alleging that the  couple had removed the victims from the territory and relocated them in Samoa.

The government’s first case against Mr. Malae accuses him of performing sexual acts with his wife’s two nieces last year where he’s facing charges of sodomy, two charges of first degree sexual abuse, two counts of deviate sexual assault and rape in the first matter.

In the new case against Mr. and Mrs. Malae, court filing says Mrs. Malae paid for two one-way tickets for the victims. Court affidavits state that despite the fact that the government had in their possession the travel documents of the victims, new travel documents were applied for and had been obtained for them.

Pre-trial conference date for this new case has been set for October 15, 2012.



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