Court Report

Translated by Samoa News staff

TWO INMATES WHO ESCAPED FROM JAIL ENTER PLEAS

Two inmates who escaped on separate dates in April this year from the Territorial Correctional Facility have each entered not guilty pleas and their next court appearances are set for the second week of next month.

Both inmates, Joeita Fa’aaliga and Joe Togitogi, waived their rights last week to preliminary examination hearings in the District Court and their cases were bound over to the High Court last Friday where each entered not guilty pleas through their attorneys.

Fa’aaliga appeared last Wednesday before the District Court charged with escape from confinement and stealing. Court information states the defendant, who is a trustee at TCF and was given the responsibility of watching the TCF gate, sometime in April escaped from TCF; and while out made his way to the American Samoa Power Authority where he allegedly stole a purse from inside a car parked at the ASPA parking lot. A woman was inside the car when he stole the purse. Fa’aaliga is said to have then made his way to a store and stole goods from there.

Fa’aaliga is charged with one count of escape from confinement and two counts of stealing. He is currently serving a 40-month prison term following a November 2013 conviction for stealing goods and cash of about $3,000 from a store in Pavaiai. He was also ordered to serve 10 years probation and pay a $5,000 fine.

For Togitogi, he was charged last Tuesday in District Court with one count of escaping from TCF. He was apprehended in Nu’uuli, where he had gotten into a fight with others in the village.

Togitogi is currently serving a five-year prison term after being convicted in February this year of second-degree assault as a result of an incident, which occurred about two years ago.

WIFE ABUSE

Another domestic violence case landed in District Court last Friday morning in which a man, who went home intoxicated, allegedly then beat up his wife in front of the couple’s children, inside the family’s home.

To protect the victim, Samoa News does not identify the defendant — the husband — by name.

Following his initial appearance in court the defendant was released on his own recognizance but ordered to find another place to stay while his case is pending in court, and not to make any direct or in-direct contact with his wife and his children.

According to court information, the wife was screaming for help and the neighbors called police for help. Thereafter the defendant ran away but the neighbors helped stop the defendant, who was then taken into custody by police. The incident is alleged to have happened last week.

Court information says the dispute between the couple started over the preparation of the couple’s children for school as well as the budgeting of the couple’s finances, resulting in the husband allegedly assaulting his wife.

The government informed the court during Friday’s hearing that police are continuing an investigation into the incident and it’s unclear at this time if the government plans to add additional charges against the defendant. However, the government says the wife had requested her husband be released from the Territorial Correctional Facility, because he is the bread-winner for the family.

The defendant, who will appear again next month in court, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of private peace disturbance and third degree assault.

JACOB FAILAUGA

A 24-year old man caught on a store’s surveillance camera stealing cans of goods from a store in Tafuna, while the store clerk was busy at the cash register with other customers, has been sentenced to 12 months probation under several conditions.

During sentencing last Friday in District Court, Jacob Failauga is prohibited from entering the Tafuna store, is to pay a $135 fine within 30 days of his probation, remain a law abiding citizen, and not violate any other laws in the territory.

Failauga pled guilty to misdemeanor stealing following the incident last month where the defendant entered the store and stole canned goods. The storeowner provided police with the store’s surveillance camera video, which shows the defendant stealing the canned goods.

According to court information the storeowner knows the defendant, who lives close to the store.

During the defendant’s interview with police, the defendant was shown the video surveillance from the store, and he immediately admitted to the theft, according to court information, which also states the defendant had stolen two small cans of pisupo from the store, because he was hungry after a night of drinking alcohol with friends.

The court recommended to the defendant to find a job so he has money to buy what he wants instead of stealing goods from the store.

(Original Samoan stores were published last Friday’s edition and Samoa News online over the weekend.

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