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Court Report

IOSE LIAINA SENTENCED TO JAIL, WITH ORDERS TO FIND GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT Chief Justice Michael Kruse sentenced Iose Liaina to 20 months in jail, as part of his five year sentence. Liaina was first charged with first degree burglary, third degree stealing and property damage, however in a plea agreement with the government he pled guilty to the amended charge of second degree burglary, while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges. Kruse sentenced the defendant to five years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended to 20 months in jail on certain conditions. Upon completion of six months in jail, the defendant will be released for 30 days with the goal to be gainfully employed by the end of the 30 days. Kruse warned the defendant that if—at the expiration of 30 days, he has yet to be gainfully employed— he will be taken back to jail where he will remain until his 20 months jail sentence is completed. Kruse also warned him that gainful employment did not include family farming. During the last hearing, Kruse pointed out that “there’s a certain setting of criminal activity and it’s just so prevalent… the burglaries involving the youth, homes are being burglarized along with a lot of businesses and we’re tired of this behavior.”The defendant apologized to the government, the court, the victim and his family for his actions. He begged the court to be compassionate when deliberating on his sentence. The defendant noted that he made a mistake and has learned from it. Liaina said the Tafuna Correctional Facility is a terrible place and he does not want to stay there.The defendant’s uncle took the stand and spoke on behalf of his nephew, saying that he was hanging around with the wrong crowd. He added that his nephew has lived with him for over four years and when this occurred he was shocked because he did not think his nephew was capable of such actions. The Chief Justice noted that the defendant may have done this because he saw that his friend had a ‘playstation’ and he didn’t. However the uncle said the defendant did have a playstation. Kruse said it’s obvious that something is wrong, then. According to the government’s case, the defendant broke into a home in Leone on Feb. 26, 2012 and took a play station three (PS3), a watch, and black leather Under Armor sport shoes. Sentencing for this matter is now set for next month. The defendant is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Julie Pasquale.FANENE ARRAIGNED IN HIGH COURTRoma Fanene facing second degree assault and public peace disturbance in an incident that allegedly occurred last year in Malaeimi was arraigned in the High Court yesterday, where he denied the charges against him. He’s represented by Private Attorney Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde. Pre-trial conference for this matter is scheduled in March 2013. According to the government’s case on Aug. 6, 2012 a woman walked into the Tafuna Police Station to report that her son was being harassed and was nearly hit by a car driven by the defendant. The victim told police he was in front of the market in the village of Malaeimi with his cousin when he was approached by Fanene who was driving a vehicle.It’s alleged that the defendant started yelling at the victim asking him what he was sniffing, and telling him to come sniff his behind.Court filings say the victim claimed he does not know Fanene, but knows that they reside in the same area and that he has not had any prior issues with the defendant and did not know why the defendant was bothering him on that particular day. The victim said when the defendant was yelling at him and teasing him, he told Fanene to leave him alone.It’s alleged that the victim told the defendant that he did not want any trouble and attempted to walk away from the defendant. The government claims that the victim and his cousin then walked away from the market area in the direction of their home, when the defendant, who was driving, nearly hit them with his vehicle.The victim said he and his cousin had to jump out of the way to avoid getting hit by defendant’s vehicle. It’s alleged that Fanene then stopped his vehicle and asked the victim whether he was “playing around with him”.The victim again told the defendant that he did not want any trouble. It’s alleged the defendant then exited his vehicle and held up a beer bottle and a can of corned beef as if he was going to throw it at to the victim and his cousin, and the pair took off running. As they were running off, the defendant continued to yell at the victim and his cousin that they were not allowed to walk in front of his house, then the defendant got back into his vehicle.Court filings say that sometime later the defendant’s younger brother also approached the victim and his cousin with a beer bottle. The victim said he believes the dispute may be related to an ongoing land dispute. Police also spoke to the victim’s cousin, whose story corroborated with the statement given by the victim.