The 38-year-old man from Tafuna accused of using a machete 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 of both; and two misdemeanor charges — unlawful use of a weapon and public peace disturbance.
The charges against Raymond Valaau stem from an incident that occurred last week in Tafuna, during which he allegedly used a machete 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 machete.
Valaau made his initial appearance in the District Court this week, where he waived his right to a preliminary examination hearing.
His next court appearance is today at 9:00 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 Nelson, asked the court for a reduction in bail — from $5,000 to $1,000. Nelson told the court that Valaau is a hard workingman, and he is the only member of his family who works to provide for his wife and two children. Nelson 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.
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.
Jacob Siafolau has been in custody since September. He was initially charged with public peace disturbance, stealing, and third degree assault.
However, in a plea agreement with the government, Siafolau pled guilty to stealing and the remaining charges were dismissed.
When he appeared before Judge Fiti Sunia this week for sentencing, Siafolau 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 break any laws, adding that if given another chance, he will do everything he can to change his life.
Judge Sunia asked the defendant what happened to the many chances the court gave him when he appeared 4 times for previous court cases. Siafolau 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.
Judge Sunia was not in the mood for ‘second’ chances when he handed down his sentence.
He told Siafolau 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 Siafolau 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?” Judge Sunia said to Siafolau.
According to court records, Siafolau was placed on 12-months probation earlier this year in April, after he was convicted of a DUI. A few months later, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor stealing.
Judge Sunia revoked Siafolau’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, Siafolau 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.
Judge Sunia ordered the defendant to serve only 60 days, and the remaining term is stayed, if he complies with all the conditions probation.
This sentence will run consecutively with the 9 days he needs to serve for probation revocation.
Saifolau is also ordered to pay a $100 fine within 30 days, and he must be gainfully employed after he is released from prison next year.