Court Report

Translated by Samoa News staff

MOSEGI SOLIA JR

The High Court last Friday sentenced Mosegi Solia Jr., to serve 20 years imprisonment for two separate cases.

In the first case, Solia Jr., pled guilty last year to violating a provision of the territory’s Medicine and Drug law - under Title 13, Chapter 10 of the American Samoa Code Annotated.

Solia, aka Joe Palagi, was initially charged with one count each of unlawful possession of crystal methamphetamine and resisting arrest — both felonies. But under the plea agreement, the drug possession count was amended, and the defendant pled guilty to violating a provision of the Medicine and Drug law, a felony punishable by not more than 5 years imprisonment or a fine of not more than $5,000.

The 25-year-old defendant admitted that on Mar. 23, 2015, when police located him — he was one of the four men accused of the November 2014 shooting of the Leone police substation — he was in possession of methamphetamine.

Solia has been in custody for about 22 months unable to post bail. For the shooting, all four men pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge, but only his co-defendants were released. Solia remained in custody, because of the drug case.

During last Friday’s sentencing hearing, Solia got the full 5 years prison term and the 22-days of pre trial confinement was counted towards his jail time.

He was also sentenced Friday for violating conditions of his probation from a 2010 drug case, where he served 30 months in jail; while a 15-year jail sentence was suspended under several conditions, including that he does not violate his probation.

However, the court was able to confirm Solia violated his 2010 drug case probation when he pled guilty to the 2015 charge.

Prior to sentencing, the defendant through a tearful testimony asked the court for leniency saying that the past 22 months behind bars is a lesson for him so that he can turn his life around. He apologized to the court, which was also asked by the defendant for help in getting him any assistance to address his drug problem.

However, acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea said the only help from the court is to put him in jail for a long time to ensure that he is no longer associated or near those who deal with drugs.

The defense called one character witness, who is the defendant’s uncle asking the court for leniency. The character witness also said that he was prepared to help ensure that the defendant was not involved in drugs.

Both the defense and prosecutor sought probation, but Patea pointed out that the defendant was once given a chance when he was sentenced the first time for the drug case in 2010. And instead of serving 15 years behind bars, the court sentenced him only to 30 months.

According to the court, the defendant will serve out the 15 years first and then the five years for the 2015 case.

Chief Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr., and Associate Judge Muasau Tasina Tofili flanked Patea on the bench.

CHRISTINA MALAUULU

A woman who pointed a pistol at three men picking up trash along the roadside in Amouli has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of third degree assault and public peace disturbance.

Christina Malauulu, a.k.a Chrissy, was in District Court late last week during her initial appearance. She was released on her own recognizance and scheduled to return for another hearing on Feb. 9.

Among the conditions of her release is that she makes no direct or indirect contact with the three men (the alleged victims), and is prohibited from possession of any form of firearm and be a law abiding citizen while her case is pending in court. 

According to court information the Fagaitua police substation was contacted last Wednesday for assistance, after a woman, later identified as Malauulu pointed a “pistol” towards the three men, who told police that while collecting trash along the roadside, the defendant allegedly stopped her car, rolled down the window and pointed the gun at them.

The woman, the victims allege, went down the road, turned around and came back, stopped and then pointed the pistol towards them.

Court documents say that the defendant was looking for one of the three men, and when one of them responded that he was that person, the defendant opened the car door and pointed the gun at him asking why he was spreading rumors about her daughter.

The three men also told police that the defendant used profanity yelling at them and that they were scared and feared for their lives.

When police located the woman, she was taken into custody, where her car was searched and a .45 caliber pistol was found. The woman didn’t want to make a statement to police at the time, until she spoke with her attorney.

STEPHEN MCRAW

For taking $1.75 worth of nails in a bag from a local shop, Stephen McRaw has been charged with misdemeanor stealing, when he appeared in District Court yesterday and is to return for another hearing on Jan. 31.

District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia set bail at $200 after the defendant refused to sign government documents, which show why he was arrested and charged.

During yesterday’s court proceedings McRaw tried to apologize for his alleged criminal behavior arguing that the bag of nails was only worth $1.75, but he was stopped by Sunia, who told the defendant that it’s best to consult his attorney, assistant public defender Kate Hannaher.

The defense argued for McRaw to be released on his own recognizance, but the government rejected it for the safety of the community as well as the defendant himself. The government argued that the defendant is seen living in areas in Tafuna and it’s unclear as to who is the defendant’s family.

According to the government, setting bail ensures that the defendant appears at all court proceedings.

(Original Samoan stories published yesterday and today in the Lali section of Samoa News.)

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