Not guilty verdict in Yandall case
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government case against 87-year-old Joseph Yandall was dismissed this week, after the jury found him not guilty for all the charges against him. The jury believed that the government failed to prove their case against Yandall.
It took just over 3 hours for the jury to deliberate before they announced their not guilty verdict late Wednesday afternoon.
Yandall, who was out on a $75,000 surety bond was charged with one count of child molestation, a felony which carries a maximum 30 year jail sentence if convicted; attempted kidnapping and attempted sexual abuse in the first degree, both class D felonies, each carrying a maximum 5 year jail sentence if convicted.
A six-member jury, one female and five males, who were selected Monday to hear the case reviewed all the evidence of the case before they delivered their verdict.
After the verdict was announced in open court, Acting Associate Justice, Elvis P. Patea thanked the jury for their hard work.
Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General, Christy Dunn, assisted by Deputy Attorney General, Lornalei Meredith, while Yandall was represented by private attorney Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde, assisted by another private attorney, Marcellus T. Uiagalelei.
Before the case was handed to the jury to do their job, the government summarized all their evidence, while the defense team stuck to their main contention that the government had failed to present any physical evidence to prove their case.
Deputy AG Meredith told the jury to consider the sworn testimony from the two alleged victims, who stated under oath that Yandall touched them on separate occasions in an inappropriate sexual manner.
For the charge of child molestation, the government claimed that they had evidence to prove this charge, when the first victim, who was known as G.P. testified and said that the defendant touched her private part using his tongue in a sexual manner. He also told G.P. twice to touch his penis.
For the charge of attempted kidnaping, the government claimed that the defendant refused to stop his vehicle when the second victim, T.M. asked him to stop his vehicle so that she could leave.
Furthermore, the government also claimed that they had provided enough evidence to prove the charge of attempted sexual abuse in the first degree, when the defendant allegedly tried to touch T.M. on the leg, and then scrolled his hand to T.M.’s private parts.
The defense on the other hand, presented their main defense — the sworn testimony from Yandall, who told the jury under oath that there was never one time he did these things to the two girls — as the government claimed.
Yandall in his own words told the jury that he believed that someone pushed these two young girls to make up these accusations against him, which caused the police to come over to his house and interview him.
He denied all the allegations against him under oath. Yandall told the jury that he never rode with these two girls together in his vehicle, nor did he attempt to touch them in a sexual manner.
Associate Judges Satele Lili’o Satele and Tunupopo Alalafaga assisted Patea on the bench.