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Defense witnesses take the stand in Day 3 of Stowers drug case

[SN file photo]
Cannery official says the defendant was helping people find jobs

One of the witnesses in the government’s case against alleged drug dealer Falaniko Stowers a.k.a Nicole told jurors yesterday that the reason why there was a lot of traffic at the defendant’s house between September to November of last year, was because people were coming to bring documents like social security numbers and ID cards to Stowers.

When asked by defense attorney Douglas Fiaui why Stowers needed the documents, the witness, Saua Seiuli of Fagaalu said Nicole was filling out employment forms for these people and that’s why they were there.

After all the government witnesses testified, Fiaui asked the court for an acquittal. The jury was dismissed for break while Chief Justice Michael Kruse addressed the legal issue with the defense attorney.

During his verbal motion, Fiaui said the facts the government presented show that Stowers never sold methamphetamine at her house in Fagatogo, and the government never provided any physical evidence to prove their case.

Prosecutor Woodrow Pengelly however argued that the evidence proves the defendant was selling methamphetamine at his home, as police officers found six cut-up straws containing ice in his possession.

Kruse denied Fiaui’s motion for an acquittal, saying there were facts presented to the court, and the jury’s duty is to decide on those facts.

The defense called two witnesses to the stand yesterday, Saua Seiuli and Sandy Satele, the latter is the StarKist Samoa Human Resources manager.

According to Satele, she saw Nicole at the cannery almost every week between September and November last year, and she was there to pick up employment forms from their office.

Satele said the employment forms were either for Stowers or her friends.

Stowers was not employed at StarKist Samoa at the time.

When asked by Fiaui if Stowers was bringing in any referrals to the company, the witness replied yes. She said Stowers was helping some people secure jobs, and she knew this because sometimes Stowers would ask her to consider certain applications.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Pengelly asked whether company employment forms are open to the public or for certain people only. Satele said the application forms were open to the public.

When Pengelly asked if there are any ASG employees and taxi drivers employed by StarKist Samoa, the witness replied yes.

When asked how many taxi drivers and ASG employees were hired by the cannery between September and November of last year, Satele said she didn't recall.

The defense's other witness, Saua Seiuli, testified that he's known Stowers for a long time because they are friends, and sometimes they'd hang out at Stowers' Fagatogo home for a week before he returned home.

The witness recalled that while staying at Stowers' house in Fagatogo between September and November last year, he saw vehicles and people coming to Stowers' home with papers.

“I don’t know these people, but there was only one guy I knew, his name was Pati — he came to Nicole’s house to bring his I.D and Social Security Number so Nicole could finish fill out his employment form to find a job,” Seiuli said.

He added that he was at Stowers' home when police came in to search the house. He told the jury he was sleeping on the bed when cops pushed the door open and came into the room where he was sleeping, and handcuffed him.

He said they didn’t explain why they cuffed him, nor did they talk to him about what they were looking for. They just cuffed him and let him sit on the bed, watching.

When Fiaui asked the witness whether he ever saw Nicole selling drugs to anybody who came up to her house, Seiuli shook his head and responded quickly, “No, I've never seen anybody buy any ice from Nicole, nor did Nicole sell any ice to anybody.”

During cross-examination, Pengelly asked the witness if he recognized any of the people who came to Stowers' house seeking help for employment. The witness said he only knew one guy, and his name was Pati.

 When asked if he recognized a man named Sepulona Sepulona Jr. who came to Stowers' house to buy ice, the witness replied no.

Sepulona Jr. was one of the government’s witnesses who testified that he was one of Stowers' regular customers.

The trial resumes today at 9:00 a.m.