The government is going forward with their case against Melchor Alamis even without what could have been one of their strongest pieces of evidence — the results of a DNA test. Investigators recently discovered that the sample for the DNA test that was sent over to the LBJ Lab for testing has been destroyed.
When asked about their next move, prosecutor Christy Dunn stated that the jury trial will continue to move forward, and the government will present other physical evidence to support its case.
The case was continued from last month after the court granted the government’s motion for a two-week continuance, so that they could finalize their investigation — particularly the results from the DNA test.
Dunn told the court that when police officers went to LBJ last week to follow up on their investigation, that’s when they were informed that the samples had been destroyed.
Acting Associate Chief Justice Elvis P. Patea acknowledged the government’s statement about what happened and noted that “one piece of evidence is less for the government, but I’m assured that there is other evidence in order for the government to move forward with this trial.” Dunn responded, “Yes Your Honor.”
Deputy Public Defender Michael White asked the court for a two-week continuance, to give him more time to look at all the evidence in the case and to see what motions he needs to file before the trial begins. Patea granted the defense’s motion and continued the case to Feb. 15 at 8:30 a.m.
Alamis is charged with sexual abuse in the first degree, a class D felony; and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.
The government alleges that around June 2017, the defendant sexually abused a 12-year-old girl by touching her in a sexual manner while she was sleeping.
Alamis has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond.
“You need to finish school and graduate this year because if you’re not going to graduate, you’re in violation of your 12-month probation, and you will be sent to jail for up to 12 months. Make sure you abide with all the conditions of your probation including the curfew the court has imposed, obey your parents and don’t you ever mess up with the law again” — this was the warning from District Court Judge Fiti Sunia to a 18-year-old student from Samoana High School, who was convicted of stealing items from the Pago Pago Coleman Elementary School in April of last year.
Austin Fanene, who is a senior at Samoana was initially charged with one count of felony stealing, and he appeared in front of Sunia on Wednesday afternoon for his preliminary hearing. However, prosecutor, Robert Morris informed the court that the government is looking at amending the charge against Fanene, from a felony stealing to misdemeanor stealing.
Morris explained to the court that based on the information the government received, all the items that were stolen by the defendant were returned to the school. This was confirmed by the defendant’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson.
Furthermore, Morris informed the court that they also reached an agreement with the defendant, where he agreed to the single misdemeanor stealing count, under the recommendation that he will be sentenced to a 12-month probation without any jail term.
When asked about their agreement with the government, Fanene, who appeared in court in his school uniform told the court interpreter he did not understand what the Judge had said to him.
“Do you understand the terms of your agreement with the government,” Sunia asked the defendant, and the defendant responded in Samoan, “I don’t understand your question.”
Sunia shook his head and looked at the defendant’s attorney and asked. “Where is your translator?” Anderson responded that his translator is busy with other work.
After a brief recess, the defense attorney was able to communicate with his client again, with the help of the clerk interpreter, so that Fanene was able to understand what was going on in his case.
When he was questioned again by Sunia, Fanene told the court that he understands the terms of the agreement with the government, and he wished to enter a guilty plea to the stealing charge.
Sunia accepted Fanene’s admission and sentenced him to a 12-month probation with special conditions, including a curfew. He has to be inside his parent’s house from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and he is ordered to pay a fine of $100.
FORMER WESTERN UNION EMPLOYEES WAIVE RIGHT TO A PX
Two former Western Union employees, who are charged with stealing and embezzlement, waived their right to a preliminary examination (PX) and their case is now bound over to the High Court for arraignment.
Both Lagavale Julia Sasa and Judy Leilua Tautalaga entered not guilty pleas to the charges against them. Sasa and Tautalaga have each been charged with two counts of embezzlement and two counts of stealing. Both defendants are represented by attorneys from the Public Defenders Officer. Their next court appearance is schedule for March 2018.
The two former employees have been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from two Asian customers. Sasa is accused of stealing a total of $10,000, while Tautalaga is accused of stealing a total of $14,000.
Sasa has been released from jail after she posted her $15,000 bond, while Tautalaga is still in jail unable to post her $35,000 bond.