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Court sentences man who assaulted his neighbor with a piece of wood

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who used a Samoan “mele’i” — a piece of wood used to husk coconuts — to assault his neighbor was convicted of second-degree assault and subsequently has been sentenced to 20 months behind bars, as a condition of a 5-year probation term.

Sosaia Ivale, 48, was initially charged with second-degree assault, a felony, along with trespass, a class A misdemeanor. But under a plea agreement with the government, which was accepted by the court, the defendant pled guilty to second-degree assault, punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

The remaining charge was dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Ivale admits that on Sept. 19, 2017, he assaulted his neighbor by striking him twice on the head and shoulder with a Samoan ‘mele’i’ after a verbal argument between the two of them regarding his neighbor’s vehicle blocking the way to his house.

Ivale appeared in court last week for sentencing.

When given the chance to address the court, Ivale asked for leniency, saying he’s truly remorseful for what he did and he wishes nothing had happened that day.

He told the court that sleeping in prison for over a year has taught him a good lesson. And that is, taking the law into his own hands is not the right thing to do.

“I failed to be a grown man that day. I broke the law and I also caused serious injuries to my neighbor whom I considered a brother to me. I apologize for my wrongdoing and I also want to apologize to the victim for what I did. Please, forgive this sinful person,” Ivale said.

According to court information, Ivale confronted the victim’s son about their vehicle blocking the road to his home. The defendant said something to the victim’s son, who then went and told his father.

The victim confronted Ivale about what he said to his son and a verbal argument ensued between the two men, which resulted in the defendant assaulting the victim.

Both parties asked the court for a probated sentence.

Ivale was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. Execution of sentence is suspended and the defendant is placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.

He has to serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) and upon release, he is to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation. This condition however, is stayed until further order of the court.

While on probation, the defendant is ordered to seek gainful employment, pay his fine, and make monthly visits to Probation.