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Man accused of raping, sexually assaulting wife acquitted of charges

Jury finds him guilty of attempted kidnapping, false imprisonment
reporters@samoanews.com

A jury of four women and two men in the government’s case against a man accused of raping his wife and holding her against her will rendered their verdict yesterday afternoon following a three day jury trial.  

The defendant who was initially charged with rape, sexual assault, attempted kidnapping and false imprisonment, was acquitted of rape and sexual assault but found guilty of attempted kidnapping and false imprisonment. Sentencing for the defendant is scheduled on October 19, 2012.

Samoa News is withholding the name of the 45-year old defendant to protect the identity of the victim. Presiding over the jury trial were Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, Chief Associate Judge Logoai Siaki and Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

The government’s case alleges the incident occurred on February 15, 2012. The defendant represented himself; however the court also appointed Matailupe Leupolu to assist the defendant. Prosecuting for the government are Assistant Attorneys General Camille Philippe and Cecilia Reyna.

OPENING STATEMENTS

During opening arguments on Tuesday, the defendant initially addressed the jury, claiming that his wife was having sex with a tomboy. The government objected to the defendant’s opening statements, and the defendant and the Assistant AG approached the bench for several minutes.

The defendant then proceeded with telling the jury that he did not rape or force his wife to have sex with him, he was engaging in sexual conduct with his wife whom he’s married to. The defendant further stated that he asked his wife to have sex for the second time and when she refused, he did not pursue it.

Assistant AG Philippe told the jury the defendant and the wife were separated when the incident occurred. The prosecutor pointed out the complaining witness was staying at a family member’s house where the defendant went looking for her.

She added the victim refused to have sex with the defendant, but the defendant proceeded with taking off his wife’s clothes and had sex with her twice on the day in question.

The prosecutor noted the defendant then was walking with the victim down the road near the ANZ bank in Fagatogo, where a man they both know stopped by in his vehicle and the defendant forced his wife to get into the car, while the victim was screaming and yelling for someone to help and the police officers came to her aid.

VICTIM’S TESTIMONY

The wife testified that her husband always got upset when she refused to have sex with him. She said the incidents started when she was about to head in for work and her husband attempted to stop her from going to work.

However later on the same day, her husband came to the canneries while she was having a meal with her friends. The victim claims the defendant told her he went to fetch a gun but he couldn’t find one. She claims the defendant told her that they are to leave the canneries and she was to never see her workplace ever.

The defendant then picked up his cell and made a call… a few minutes later a taxi pulled over. The victim said while she was about to enter the taxi, a small voice whispered to her…“run away” so she ran across the street to the gate where the security guard was.

Her husband ran after her, and she stumbled and fell in front of the gate and the defendant asked her to get up so they could go home. The complaining witness said the security guard asked her if police should be contacted for assistance.

The couple were then transported to the Central Police Station and afterward, the victim was taken to a shelter where she stayed for an entire week. The victim said upon being released from the shelter she stayed with a relative in Fagatogo, where her husband visited her and forced her to have sex with him. She further told the jury that she was scared and frightened when she gave in and had sex with her husband.

She added they walked down in front of the ANZ bank where a man from their church stopped by and the defendant held her hand and pushed her inside the car and held his hand over his mouth. She further stated that she screamed and yelled out for help and then a few minutes later police officers showed up at the scene.

During cross examination the defendant asked the court on several occasions if he could talk about his wife’s testimony because there were parts of her testimony that should be made clear to the jury.

Richmond reminded the defendant that he needs to abide by attorney rules for court procedure, because he’s representing himself.  

The defendant asked this wife — during the 18 years of their marriage if she’s ever seen him with a gun. She replied no.

The defendant then asked his wife to name her friend at the canneries who she was having a meal with the night in question.

The victim named three people: Fou, Iulia and Leafa. The defendant then asked the victim to tell the jury that Fou is the tomboy she was having sex with. The government objected, and the court ruled for the victim not to answer the question.

The defendant turned to the lawyer assisting him and said that the Judge cannot stop his questions because the jury needs to know the truth. The defendant then said he was done with questioning his wife.

DEFENDANT’S TESTIMONY

Prior to the defendant’s testimony before the Jury, he told the court that he will take not take the oath and swear on the holy bible unless the bible is open and his hand is placed inside the bible, and so the bible was opened up.

The defendant told the jury that he did not force his wife to have sex with him but they had sex as a married couple.

He added that his wife was crying when she admitted to him that he was to return home and care for their children, and she was now in love with a tomboy.

The defendant said in court that his wife agreed to go with him to their home to try and work things out with their marriage.

While the defendant denies raping his wife, he admitted to grabbing his wife on her arms and covering her mouth with his hand when she was tried to scream. The defendant further admitted that he tried to force his wife into a vehicle.  

He also told the jury that marriage is a sacred vow between a man and woman before God and he takes his vows very seriously. The defendant said only a fool would let his wife go and not do something about it.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Assistant AG Philippe during closing arguments told the members of the jury several times that fear is a very powerful tool, which the defendant used on his wife. The defendant is controlling and he controlled the victim through fear she said.

“It’s in his look, his tone of voice, and what he says.”

She added that the defendant was blinded by his anger and by his controlling. “How dare she tell him no, how dare she denied to have sex with him, how dare she tried to leave him, she was his lawfully wedded wife."

“She was his to be taken from her workplace whenever he wanted, she was his to push into the car when he wanted, never mind she was crying, never mind she wanted to get out of her marriage.”

Assistant AG Philippe told the jury that she does not mean to discredit the sanctity of marriage but the defendant made a vow to love and protect his wife.

However in this marriage the defendant wanted to control his wife, which is not an act of a love between the defendant and his wife.

The victim did not consent to have sex with the defendant, but it was because she was terrified of her husband that she submitted to what he wanted. “That is the case here”.

Philippe said this was a case of an unhappy marriage where the victim was trying to leave the marriage, the defendant was controlling and she was terrified of him. He asked the jury to find the defendant guilty of all the charges against him.

The husband told the jury that he’s before the court because of his love for his wife.

“I didn’t see anyone of you when the incident occurred, and now you are judging me,” he told the jury. He said he was married to his wife for 18 years and not once did she tell him she was not happy with him.

“She should have thought about marriage before she signed those papers and married me, however as time passed she began to acquire more knowledge which caused all of this,” he said.

The defendant further stated that when he visited his wife at her workplace, it was not out of anger rather out of love for their children and the love for his wife who made a commitment with him in marriage before God.

“There was never a time that I attempted to threaten anyone in this family” said the defendant. He told the jury, in due time his voice will be on radio and he asked members of the jury to call him directly on the radio to ask him anything regarding this case.

He added that on the radio he will disclose all that had been prohibited to be told in the court and that is when everything will be clear.

The defendant told the jury to have foresight, if they love their children. He added that this will not end in court, this will come out again. He further told the jury how they would feel if this happened to one of them. The defendant said if he contemplated to do anything to his wife as she is claiming he would have done it, but he didn’t.

“Love is not something simple” he said. To the judges the defendant told them, “I say to you who are occupying the seats of justice to do justice and I like for you to remember that it was God who sent me here today”.

The defendant also quoted scriptures from the bible in support of his closing arguments.



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