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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

LINNEA SAMATUA RECEIVES PLEA OFFER

A request by the public defender’s office, for a continuance in the case of Linnea Samatua, charged with stealing and passing bad checks, was granted by Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond.

Samatua who is out on bail of $3,000, was in court for her pre-trial conference when Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde informed the court a plea offer was handed over to the defense.

Samatua allegedly wrote seven checks out to the Airport Way Gas Station and Haleck's Service Center in March 2012, totaling $570. The checks were returned with a ‘Closed Account' notice. Each returned check was then charged a fee of $25 by the payee.

The government now claims Samatua has repaid $200 with a remaining balance of $545.00.

The pretrial conference will take place within the next two weeks.

MERLIN ULI DENIES CHARGES OF ESCAPE WHILE ON WORK RELEASE

Merlin Uli, currently serving a 10-year-sentence, is charged in a new case, on allegations he escaped on several occasions while on work release.

The defendant entered a not guilty plea when he appeared in the High Court yesterday.

According to the government’s case, Merlin is currently serving a 10 year sentence with his twin brother Marlon, following their conviction on two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

But he is again charged with four counts of escape while on program release and each count is a class D felony punishable by imprisonment up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. 

According to the government, on November 16, 2011 the defendant was approved to take part in a work release program, working part time for 3M Burger and attending college.

The government alleges that on June 22, 2012, a search warrant was executed at the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) Cell Unit inside the Tafuna Correctional facility where the defendant was housed.

“A number of items were seized during the execution of this search warrant, some of the items indicated the defendant was deviating from the direct route to and from his work release” say court filings. 

Court filings state that during the search, multiple receipts were confiscated from the defendant’s cell.  One of the receipts dated January 5, 2012 was a receipt for money order at the post office in Fagatogo and the defendant’s signature was on the receipt. 

It’s alleged the signature on the receipt matches the defendant’s signature on both his driver’s license and voter registration card. Police also confiscated the driver’s license and voter registration card issued to the defendant.

The driver’s license for the defendant contains Merlin’s photo and signature that was issued on September 14, 2011.

An employee with the OMV Sam Kolone confirmed with police that he recalled seeing Merlin at the OMV on September 14, 2011.

The voter’s registration card also contains the photo and signature of the defendant and it was issued on September 2011. It’s alleged that on May 25, 2012 post office employee Chevonne Lafaele was about to leave work at the Leone Post office, while in her vehicle, she was approached by one of the Uli twins.

Lafaele was unclear which of the twins came to talk to her about a package that was scheduled to arrive on island and tracking information for the package noted that it’s already on island however he did not receive the yellow slip to pick it up.

Lafaele told him that he would have to go to the Fagatogo Post office. The government claims that a photo line-up was later presented to Lafaele where she identified it was Merlin who she saw at the Post office in Leone.

DEFENDANT ORDERED TO LEAVE ISLAND

Siloma Siotalima was sentenced to leave the territory as a condition of a five-year probation term in connection with his conviction for an ongoing sexual relationship with a minor.

Siotalima was initially charged with five counts of rape, deviate sexual assault, first degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child but entered a guilty plea to deviate sexual assault under his plea deal, and the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin, noted the difficulty in this case because although it was an inappropriate relationship it was consensual. She added that due to the complaining witness’ persistence, it landed the defendant in court.

Cardin told the court that a baby was born from this relationship and the baby has been been given up for adoption while the girl was sent back to Samoa.

She informed the court that Siotalima is an overstayer and his sponsor was present in court and is ready to pay for the defendant’s travel arrangements to return to Samoa.

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop pointed out that the defendant is twice the age of the complaining witness, and should have known better.

“This case is where consensual is irrelevant, he should have known better” said the Deputy AG. Associate Justice Richmond who handed down sentencing. 

Richmond noted that Siotalima had already served nine and half months at the Tafuna Correctional Facility and sentenced him to five years in jail, with execution of sentencing suspended placed him on a five year probation term with conditions.

Siotalima was ordered to serve 20 months in jail, with the jail-term stayed and he is to leave the territory for the remainder of his probation.

Siotalima was also ordered to pay a fine, which should be paid by the sponsor said the court since Siotalima will be leaving the territory.

THREE TIMES CHARGED WITH THIRD DEGREE ASSAULT

A man charged in March and July 2012 for third degree assault, on domestic violence, is again before the court charged for the third time, for the same crime, while on probation for his earlier convictions.

The defendant, being held on bail of $20,000, yesterday waived his rights to a preliminary examination and will be arraigned in the High Court on Monday.

The defendant's name will not be published to protect the identity of the victim.

According to the government’s case the defendant pled guilty in March and July of 2012, to third degree assault for assaulting his wife.

The victim told police her husband assaulted her numerous times, and she believes that one of those assaults resulted in her miscarriage in June 2012, when she was five or six months pregnant with the defendant’s child.

After pleading guilty to a crime involving Domestic Violence within the past five (5) years and committing it again, is a violation of ASCA 47.0102 (2) a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.00 say government attorneys



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