Court deliberates convoluted assault case
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man arrested and charged for allegedly assaulting another man who was eventually hospitalized, made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning.
Bail for Maranata Leaumoana remains at $5,000 despite a request for bail reduction by his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill.
According to the government's case, police were called for assistance by the victim's sister, who said her brother was assaulted by Leaumoana at the Maliu Mai parking lot on Dec. 23, 2018.
On the day in question, the victim was at Maliu Mai with friends and after a couple of drinks, his friend wasn't too happy to discover that drinks were added to her tab.
Police claim that the victim became upset and had to be removed from the bar "for being rowdy." His friend with the bar tab accompanied him outside.
At this time, according to the criminal complaint, Leaumoana was sitting in a vehicle in the parking lot, video chatting with his spouse who was off island. Leaumoana saw a familiar face, a man working as a security guard at the bar.
The government claims that two unknown males approached the victim and his female friend outside the bar, and told him that there was a male inside a vehicle on the other side of the parking lot requesting to speak with him.
The victim went over where Leaumoana and the security guard were.
According to the security guard, he was conducting his usual rounds in the parking lot when he came upon Leaumoana. He said the victim approached him and asked if he knew a person by the name of "Mata" (Maranata Leaumoana).
The security guard pointed him out to the victim.
According to the defendant's statement to police, the victim "suddenly showed up at his car and asked with in a violent tone" if he knew where Nata was.
Leauamoana said he replied, "that's me."
The defendant told police that the victim showed "threat of physical movement" so he hopped out of the car and punched the victim twice.
Leaumoana said he was worried that the victim was going to do something so he "stood his ground in self-defense." He claims he didn't punch or kick the victim once he was on the ground, but he got into his car and left.
He said he tried to find out the next afternoon, why the victim came to his car; but later that night, the victim's brother messaged him, accusing him of using a weapon to assault his brother.
Leaumoana denied using a weapon similar to brass knuckles. He said what they thought was a weapon was, in fact, his wedding ring.
According to police, a wedding ring and what appeared to be teeth marks were observed on the back of Leaumoana's hand.
Judge Patea noted that the minimum bond for felonies is $5,000 and denied the motion to reduce the amount. In addition to standard conditions of release, Leaumoana — if he is able to post bond — is ordered not to make any direct or indirect contact with the complainant or any of the government's witnesses in this case.
His preliminary examination is set for tomorrow, March 14.
FAAFETAI LEFATIA JR
District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea has echoed Associate Justice Fiti Sunia's advice to Faafetai Lefatia Jr. And that is: "no driving".
Lefatia Jr. appeared in District Court this past Monday where he entered a plea of 'not guilty' to all four citations.
During court proceedings, it was noted that Lefatia Jr had a bench warrant issued, for failing to appear in court on Feb. 5 this year. For that incident, he was cited for driving with an expired license on Dec. 31, 2018.
He was out on bail for "several matters", according to Judge Elvis P. Patea who noted that Lefatia Jr. is facing "multiple offenses," and while they have to do with traffic, "they are serious allegations."
For the new case, bond is set at $500 cash only.
Lefatia Jr is represented by private counsel Talaimalo Marcellus Uiagalelei while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell.
Lefatia Jr's next court appearance is May 1