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Faleniu faifeau charged with vehicular homicide

Reverend Ali’ioaiga Filioali’i made his initial appearance before the District Court on Wednesday in connection with a car accident, which led to the death of a 12-year old girl on September 19, 2010. He is a faifeau of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa- Faleniu.

The church leader is facing vehicular homicide — a felony which is punishable by up to five years in jail — and/or a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

According to court filings, the victim was walking on the sidewalk with her friend along the village of Faleniu public highway. It’s alleged the victim was walking a few feet ahead of her friend when the victim stepped onto the highway and was struck by a Ford F-150 pickup truck, driven by the church minister (faifeau). The victim was struck by the front right fender of the truck.

The victim’s friend told police the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed; and witnesses told police there were other minors walking in the same area, the court documents state. The driver of the vehicle that was in front of the Reverend’s car also told police the defendant’s vehicle was traveling at a very high speed, and estimated the speed at approximately 35 mph. 

According to the government’s case the victim was rushed to LBJ medical center following the accident and she slipped into a coma, dying 11 days later.

An autopsy was conducted on October 1, 2010 by Dr. Ivy T. Clemente, who said the cause of death was determined to be a cerebral cortical contusion with “associated subdural and intraparenchymal hemorrhage caused by blunt force injury to the head”.

Bail for the faifeau was originally set at $5,000, however, it was later reduced to $2,500.

District Court Judge John Ward has scheduled the preliminary examination hearing for the case on March 19, 2012, which is next week Monday. The PX hearing is for the court to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to have this matter bound over to the High Court.