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Judge denies bail reduction for man with alleged heart condition

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — District Court Judge Fiti Sunia denied a motion by Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells last week to reduce James Stuart’s bond from $2,000 to $500, and allow him to be housed at the LBJ medical center due to his heart condition.

Stuart is one of the two men arrested from the Veterans Memorial Stadium, Friday,  Nov. 9th, during the high school football games; and was later charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He appeared in court last week for his preliminary examination.

When Stuart’s case was called, Wells immediately argued her verbal motion for bail reduction. She asked the court to reduce the amount from $2,000 to $500. According to Wells, her client suffers from a heart problem, and he needs to be at the LBJ Hospital for treatment. She argued that the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) is not the right place for her client, because he is a patient, and a patient needs to be held at the local hospital.

Furthermore, Wells said her client is not a flight risk, because he is planning to stay in American Samoa with his son and daughter-in-law.

Prosecutor Christy Dunn opposed the defense’s motion. She argued that the defendant arrived in the territory last week, he’s not from American Samoa, and the government believes he is a flight risk.

Before Sunia denied the defense’s motion, he pointed out that one of the common crimes in the territory right now is unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He said that this year alone, the court has signed numerous warrants to arrest people for unlawful possession of meth and meth instruments.

“This charge is a felony, which carries a mandatory imprisonment term of not less than 5 years. Whether a small quantity of drugs was found or a large amount was found, the mandatory imprisonment is still the same,” Sunia said. He then denied the motion to reduce bail.

Wells then asked the court to continue her client’s PX until next week, because she needs to discuss with him some issues before the hearing.

Sunia granted the defense’s motion and re-scheduled Stuart’s PX for Nov. 27


When Stuart was at the Tafuna Substation after his arrest at the stadium, police saw another male sitting next to him, trying to get something from inside Stuart’s pockets.

He was later identified as Stuart’s son.

At the same time, a cop saw small pieces of broken glass near Stuart’s feet and underneath his feet was a small clear baggie containing a white substance. Stuart’s son told police that his father has a heart problem. According to the son, Stuart recently arrived in the territory and he has a habit of smoking meth when he is off island.