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Court takes under advisement Siaumau's request for bail

Chief Justice Michael Kruse [SN file photo]

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chief Justice Michael Kruse has taken under advisement a motion by attorney William Olson, asking the court to set bail for his client, Thomas Siaumau, who is being held in custody without bail. The defense attorney argues that bail should be set while the government is still in the process of sending their evidence off island for testing.

Olson presented two motions before the court last Friday: a motion asking the government to turn over discovery in the case, and the motion to set bail.

According to Olson, he is still waiting for prosecutors to turn over discovery, together with some evidence, that is still in California.

He told the court they want the case to move forward as soon as possible.

But Prosecutor Woodrow Pengelly told the court he doesn't know what discoveries the defense is asking for, because he's already turned over the police report.

According to Pengelly, all the physical evidence that was collected from the alleged crime scene last year are on island, and the Attorney General’s office is working very close with various agencies including the Police Department and the federal ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) to find out which one they can send the evidence to for testing. He said they expect to have a report in the next couple of weeks.

One of the elements the defense pointed to, as far as the 'no bail' status, is that this can apply to certain cases, when the government presents sufficient evidence during the preliminary examination (PX) hearing.

For Siaumau’s case, Olson argues there was no PX hearing, because Siaumau waived his right to one, whereby his case was then bound over to the High Court for arraignment.

Olson asked the court to at least establish some bond amount, either $250,000 or a reasonable number.

Pengelly asked the court to deny the motion for bail.

Based on the information presented to the District Court, Pengelly said Judge Fiti Sunia issued an arrest warrant based on the affidavit the government presented to support the allegation against the defendant. For that reason, said Pengelly, Sunia refused to set an amount of bond in this case.

The prosecutor said the arrest warrant and the case against the defendant are based on the testimonies from eyewitnesses whom are not named in the report at this time.

“Charges have been filed against the defendant… the damage of a police unit and the bullet that was allegedly found inside the police unit - these are some of the things the District Court Judge considered before set the no bail status against the defendant,” Pengelly told the court.

According to the government, Siaumau has quite a criminal record. He was convicted with assault and property damage, both felonies, in 2009.

He has a conviction in the District Court involving resisting arrest and threatening police officers, and he also has a conviction in the state of Hawai’i from 2010.

According to the government's attorney, Siaumau has already admitted to violating conditions of his probation from his case in Hawai’i. According to information the government received, the court in Hawai’i has issued a bench warrant to arrest the defendant immediately after he left the island of Oahu, without permission from the court.

Pengelly told the court he did not find the copy of the bench warrant at his office but he believes the state of Hawai’i will issue an expedited warrant for the defendant.

“Because the totality and the circumstances and the seriousness of this case, the government asks the court not to set a bond in this matter,” Pengelly concluded.

Siaumau is facing six felony counts — including assault and weapons charges — and three misdemeanors stemming from an accident that occurred in December 2017 when someone shot at a police vehicle — police officers were not in the vehicle at the time.