Court Report

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES IN COURT   

Another domestic violence case came before District Court last week for sentencing and District Court Judge Fiti Sunia told the male defendant that he court doesn’t take these cases lightly. He told the defendant that a week doesn’t go by without these cases coming before the court.

“It’s important that defendants learn their lesson from the sentence handed down in these domestic violence cases,” said Sunia.

In the latest case last week, the defendant, who is a 42-year-old man from Samoa who has lived in the territory for over 20 with his wife and 3 children was convicted of misdemeanor third degree assault while a second misdemeanor count of public peace disturbance was dismissed.

According to court records, the defendant slapped his wife in the face in front of his 12-year-old daughter and his sister-in-law. The defendant told the court that an argument between him and his wife started when he was putting away his wallet in the area where his clothes are kept, which caused his wife to be suspicious that he was trying to hide something from her.

The defendant told the court that he pushed his wife out of his way, but the government responded that the defendant slapped his wife in front of his sister-in-law and his daughter, which resulted in his sister-in-law calling the police for help.

The defendant was sentenced to 35 days imprisonment, and the 32 days that the defendant spent in jail since his arrest was counted towards the jail term. The court also ordered the defendant to pay a fine of $125.

FILIOLEMA’AGAO VALAAU

The 42-year-old man from Pava’ia’i accused of using a metal pipe to assault another man has been arrested and charged with second degree assault — a felony, punishable by not more than 5 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both; and two misdemeanor charges — unlawful use of a weapon and public peace disturbance.

The charges against Filiolema’agao Valaau stem from an incident that occurred last week in Pava’ia’i, during which he allegedly used a metal pipe to assault and severely injure another man.

According to the police report, Valaau and the victim had gotten into a disagreement. The victim allegedly attempted to assault Valaau and when he failed to do so, the defendant turned around and assaulted the victim with a metal pipe.

Valaau made his initial appearance in the District Court last week, where he waived his right to a preliminary examination hearing.

His next court appearance is today at 9 a.m. in the High Court, where he is expected to enter a not guilty plea to the charges.

Valaau’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson, asked the court for a reduction in bail — from $5,000 to $1,000. Nelson told the court that Valaau is a hard working man, and he is the only member of his family who works to provide for his wife and two children. Anderson said his client is not a flight risk; he has no intention of leaving his family.

Prosecutor Jillian Sadler opposed the defense’s motion, saying the bail set by the court is the right amount for the offense the defendant is accused of committing.

The defense motion was denied and bail remains at $5,000; and because he is unable to post bond, Valaau remains in custody at the TCF.

TONY ULBERG

A young man that was convicted of misdemeanor stealing has been ordered to serve 60 days at Tafuna Correctional Facility, as a condition of a 12-month probation sentence.

Tony Ulberg has been in custody since November. He was initially charged with public peace disturbance, stealing, and third degree assault.

However, in a plea agreement with the government, Uluberg pled guilty to stealing and the remaining charges were dismissed.

When he appeared before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia last week for sentencing, Ulberg apologized for his actions and begged for a second chance to return home to care for his parents and serve his family and church.

He also apologized to the victim and asked for forgiveness. The defendant said he is truly remorseful for what he did and assured the judge that he will never again break any laws, adding that if given another chance, he will do everything he can to change his life.

Sunia asked the defendant what happened to the many chances the court gave him when he appeared 4 times for previous court cases. Ulberg said he messed up — he was trying his best to abide by the law, but he failed.

Attorneys from both sides asked the court to sentence the defendant to 12 months probation, under the condition that he attend and complete alcohol counseling, and refrain from consuming alcohol.

However Sunia told Ulberg that the court gave him a lot of chances before, but it appears that he’s not learning his lesson. A report from the Probation Office states that Ulberg has completed alcohol counseling that was ordered by the court, as a condition of a previous matter.

“You’re not new in this court, this is the 5th time you've come before this Court. You have been convicted of public peace disturbance three times. You've also been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) and now you’re convicted of stealing. Who knows, maybe your next criminal act will be a felony?” Sunia said to Ulberg.

According to court records, Ulberg was placed on 12-months probation earlier last year in April, after he was convicted of a DUI. A few months later, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor stealing.

The judge then revoked Ulberg’s 12-month probation sentence from the DUI matter, and ordered him to serve the suspended sentence of 60 days. He will be credited for the 51 days he's already spent in confinement.

For the stealing case, Ulberg has been sentenced to serve 12 months at the TCF.

The sentence is suspended however, and he is placed on probation for 12 months, under the condition that he serves 120 days behind bars.

Sunia ordered the defendant to serve only 60 days, and the remaining term is stayed, if he complies with all the conditions of probation.

This sentence will run consecutively with the 9 days he needs to serve for probation revocation.

Ulberg is also ordered to pay a $100 fine within 30 days, and he must be gainfully employed after he is released from prison next week.

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