PIO FAGAAUTAU RECEIVES SECOND CHANCE FROM HIGH COURT
A young man convicted of attempted burglary was given a second chance from the High Court, when he was sentenced last Friday by Chief Justice Michael Kruse who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Fa’amausili Pomele.
Fagaautau, 20 was initially charged with first-degree burglary and felony stealing in connection with a burglary in Amaluia December of last year. However in a plea deal with the government, the defendant pled guilty to attempted burglary, and the felony stealing charge was dismissed.
Fagaautau apologized to the government, the court, and his family for his actions and pleaded with the court for another chance to return home so he can further his education and find a job to assist his family.
Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin told the court the defendant was going through a very tough situation during the time of the incident, adding that Fagaautau was enrolled in college when he was arrested and his family is certain the defendant has potential to become a productive member of society. Cardin asked the court to place her client on probation so he can pursue his goals in life.
Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna noted the defendant was suffering from a personal loss, however what happened could have been worse for Fagaautau.
Reyna added the defendant has a prior public peace disturbance and underage drinking conviction in the District Court.
The Chief Justice told the defendant “all of this for a phone, for some airtime, was it worth it?” The defendant replied “no.”
The Chief Justice sentenced Fagaautau to five years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and he was placed on five years probation with conditions. He was sentenced to time served as part of his probation, which was seven months in jail.
Kruse made it clear to the defendant that the time served for this sentence is to be served consecutively (not concurrently) with the sentence for his probation violation in the District Court. (He has not yet been sentenced in the District Court matter.)
Fagaautau was ordered to remain a law abiding citizen, abstain from consuming alcohol or controlled substance, refrain from entering into taverns and bars and not congregate with those who are consuming alcohol.
The defendant was also ordered to serve 160 hours of community service and he’ll be subject to random testing for alcohol by any probation officer.
He must also obtain a job or attend school within six months of his release from the Tafuna Correctional Facility.
He was also ordered to apologize to his cousin— the victim in this matter— in the presence of the probation officer.
The Chief Justice warned the defendant that if he violates any of the conditions of his probation he’ll be back in jail.
According to the government’s case, the defendant allegedly broke into a home in the early hours of December 7, 2011 and allegedly took off with several cell phones, shoes and money. The defendant was caught when a family member woke up and found Fagaautau in the house. The government claims the defendant was intoxicated when the incident occurred.
LOMITUSI UIAGALELEI SCHEDULED FOR JURY TRIAL
Chief Justice Michael Kruse has scheduled a jury trial in the government’s case against Lomitusi Uiagalelei facing second degree assault and public peace disturbance.
This matter has been on calendar on several occasions for a change of plea, however it is now set for Jury trial July 30, 2012.
According to the government Uiagalelei is accused of hitting another man with a shovel.
Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde is prosecuting this matter.
The defendant who’s out on bail of $5,000 was ordered by the court not to make direct or indirect contact with the victim while out on bail. The court also ordered him to remain a law abiding citizen as a condition of his release on bond.
FAAMANU CASE CONTINUED DUE TO INCOMPLETE PLEA DEAL
A boxer from Samoa, Aukuso Fa’amanu accused of having sex with a 16-year old girl was scheduled to have his change of plea hearing on Monday.
However, when the defendant appeared in High Court, Chief Justice Michael Kruse said he will not proceed with this matter given that the plea agreement between the defendant and the government is incomplete.
Kruse told the government they had failed to include in the plea deal the particular laws that are involved with this offense. The Chief Justice rescheduled another hearing for this matter on July 9, 2012 and ordered the government to go through the plea offer.
Public Defender Ruth Risch Fuatagavi also reminded the court that this was scheduled for a jury trial, however it’s most likely going to be settled with a plea.
The Chief Justice told the defense the court does not appreciate last minute plea deals, given that the court Marshal has already been out delivering letters to jurors for the trial, but noted that the Marshal will be informed.
The defendant is facing charges of rape, deviate sexual assault, sexual abuse in the first degree and endangering the welfare of a child.
Fa’amanu, who was visiting from Samoa, took part in the Moso’oi Festival last year. He remains in jail with bail set at $100,000.