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Manslaughter and negligent homicide charges dismissed

[SN file photo]
Translated by Samoa News staff

At the conclusion of a bench trial last week, the High Court has dismissed two felony charges — manslaughter and negligent homicide — against Glen Leasiolagi, who was accused of causing injuries against another man in 2014 that caused the man’s death the next day.

Leasiolagi was also charged with one misdemeanor public peace disturbance, which was also dismissed by the court.

During the bench trial, Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea was flanked on the bench by associate judges Tunupopo Faleafaga and Satele Lili’o, while assistant attorney general Bob Pickett was the prosecutor and Leasiolagi was represented by assistant public defender Michael White.

At the outset of the bench trial, the government argued that on the evening of Mar. 14, 2014 in Fagatogo, an incident occurred resulting in the charge against the defendant, who allegedly assaulted the victim during a beer drinking session.

The alleged assault resulted in serious injuries to the victim’s head, and the government argued that Leasiolagi caused these injuries that resulted in the victim’s death.

The government alleged in its case against Leasiolagi that the defendant and the victim got into a fight during their drinking session and the argument got louder.

Following the drinking session and the argument, the victim went home in the wee hours of the morning, to sleep. However, it was sometime during daylight that the victim’s uncle found him dead at his home.

Among the witnesses called by the government is the police officer that conducted the investigation and Dr. Armour Gonzales, a pathologist, who conducted an autopsy on the on the deceased, as to cause of death.

Gonzales testified that the serious injury affecting the right side of the victim’s head was the cause of death, impacting his brain. Of the many years that he has performed an autopsy, Gonzales says this is the first time he has seen such severe head injuries that resulted in the death of a person.

When questioned by the defense if he is a forensic pathologist, Gonzales said he is not — he is a general pathologist.

The defense called a retired forensic pathologist, Kris Sperry, from the state of Georgia, with many years of experience in the field. Sperry testified that based on his investigation, the victim didn’t die from being hit with a fist but the victim’s head hit a hard object, such as the side of a table or chair.

Sperry said a punch using a fist of a human being cannot cause the injury that resulted in the victim’s death. With Sperry’s testimony, the court dismissed charges against Leasiolagi.