AMERICAN SAMOA COURT REPORT
Afa Fuimaono, 48, will be sentenced May 4th for one count of second-degree assault — a felony — punishable by not more than 5 years imprisonment or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.
Fuimaono was initially charged with felony first-degree assault, which carries a punishment of life imprisonment or at least 30 years in jail.
But under a plea agreement with the government, Fuimaono pled guilty to the lesser felony.
With his guilty plea, Fuimaono admits that on Dec. 22, 2017 at his plantation in Mapusaga Fou, he struck Elisara Paselio multiple times with a machete, during an incident that was sparked by a land dispute.
The assault resulted in numerous lacerations to the victim's body that required several stitches.
Fuimaono has been unable to post bond and therefore remains in custody at the Territorial Correctional Facility.
The case of a man accused of firing a gun into the air outside a nightclub on the night of Super Bowl LII was bound over to the High Court, after he waived his preliminary examination (PX) before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia last week.
Hapakuki Fotuaika, who is out on a $10,000 surety bond, denied all the charges against him during his arraignment earlier this week. His pretrial conference is set for May 4.
Eyewitnesses told police Fotuaika was at a nightclub on the night of the Super Bowl game and at some point, there was a confrontation between the defendant and a female — the alleged victim in this case — which caused the defendant to become angry, walk outside to his vehicle, grab a gun, and allegedly fire shots into the air.
Eyewitnesses further told police that the defendant allegedly kept firing the gun into the air from inside his vehicle as he drove off.
A man who was arrested and taken into custody during the weekend after he failed to appear in court when his case was called has been given another chance by Chief Justice Michael Kruse to comply with other conditions of his release on bond.
Lafaele Sefo, who is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine was scheduled to appear in court last Friday for a pretrial conference hearing. One of the conditions of his release on a $5,000 surety bond was to appear in court every time his case is called.
Last Friday, Sefo failed to appear in court and Kruse then ordered a bench warrant to be issued for his arrest, and he was to be remanded to custody without bail, his bond forfeited.
At around 2:00 p.m., Sefo showed up at the High Court, where he was served with the bench warrant and transferred to the TCF. When his case was called on Monday, Sefo was present in handcuffs.
His attorney, Public Defender Douglas Fiaui asked the court to quash the warrant and set aside the forfeiture of his bond. Fiaui explained that his office failed to communicate with Sefo about his hearing date, and it’s unfair for Sefo to be punished for the PD office's mistake.
According to Fiaui, Deputy Public Defender, Michael White appeared on his behalf during Sefo’s last hearing in December 2017, and that’s how the miscommunication came about.
Prosecutor Woodrow Pengelly said the government has no objection to the defense’s requests.
Kruse had a lot of questions for the defendant.
The Chief Justice wanted to know where Sefo lives, what he does for a living, who posted his bond, and who is the matai of his family.
Sefo told the court he’s from Malaeloa, and he’s a farmer.
“Who owns the plantation you’re working for?” Kruse asked. Sefo answered, Fa’afetai Lefatia.
“The name rings a bell,” said Kruse.
“Who put up the money for your bail?" Kruse continued. Sefo responded, Tumuatasi Lefatia, the wife of Fa’afetai Lefatia. When Kruse inquired about his family matai, Sefo said Talamoa Paulo is the sa’o of his family.
“Again, these names ring a bell to the court,” Kruse said.
The Chief Justice accepted the defense’s request to quash the warrant for Sefo, and to reinstate his posted bond.
The defendant is now ordered to sign in at the Public Defender’s Office every Monday at 1:00 p.m. to make sure he is aware of all his court dates.