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Man accused of assaulting a bus driver is held without bail

American Samoa District Court building
Immigration says his ID expired nearly 5 years ago

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An overstayer who allegedly assaulted another man for not moving his bus made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning.

Filisi Keneti is remanded to custody without set bail, after the court was notified by Immigration that Keneti's ID expired in 2014

Through his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, Keneti entered 'not guilty' pleas to the two charges against him: public peace disturbance and third degree assault.

A status hearing is set for April 10.

The charges against Keneti stem from an incident that allegedly occurred last Saturday, March 23 in Malaeloa.

According to the government's case, a woman contacted police for assistance, saying Keneti was fighting another man, and the defendant was armed with a machete.

When officers arrived at the scene, they were able to speak to both the caller and the victim. Police observed a red mark on the victim's left eye, and an abrasion on his left eyelid which required stitches.

The victim told police that Keneti had approached him, telling him to move his bus. In response, he told Keneti to "ask nicely". Keneti asked again, and the victim again told him to ask nicely.

That's when the victim said Keneti entered the bus and struck him with a beer bottle, which hit his eye. Investigators went looking for Keneti at his Lepuapua home but he was not to be found.

Later that evening, Keneti, accompanied by a cab driver, turned himself in at the DPS Leone substation. In his verbal statement to police, Keneti said he went to Malaeloa to prepare some stuff for his Sunday umu.

When he got there, the victim's bus was blocking the way so he asked the victim to move his bus but the victim told him he is "not the boss," and he "doesn't own the road."

Keneti told police he was "so mad" at the victim for not moving his bus, that he entered the bus and threw the first punch. But he missed. So he grabbed the victim's head and pulled it down and he "upper cut him in the eye," according to court documents.

Keneti said that although he was holding a machete when he was asking the victim to move his bus, he dropped the knife before he entered the bus. He said he picked up the machete after he exited the bus and walked home.

Keneti told police that as he was walking back towards the taxi he had come in, he was holding the machete and he threatened to beat up the victim "someday".

The defendant explained to police that he had a machete that day because he was trying to get stuff from his plantation to prepare the Sunday umu.