Mataupu Mamona found not guilty of murder of his wife

Found guilty of assault, PPD and false reporting
joyetter@samoanews.com

“The guilty verdicts on the assault count, PPD (Public Peace Disturbance) and false reporting were a just result, and although he wasn’t found guilty on the murder charge, I feel that we did the family justice. The children lost their mother and I hope that we brought some closure to the family, in the death of not only a mother to her children but a daughter to the parents who are still mourning her sudden death,” said Police Detective, Amituana’i “Ami” Toleafoa Filemoni, who was the lead investigator in the murder allegation.

At the time he was with Criminal Investigation Division, Ami was tasked to investigate a murder case after a nine-year old boy informed his teacher that it was his father who strangled his mother to death in their bedroom.

The Patrol police initially ruled the case as a suicide and the family proceeded with the funeral. However, new information surfaced afterwards, which led to the arrest of Mataupu Mamona who was then charged with second degree murder, assault in the first degree, false reports and two counts of private peace disturbance by the Attorney General’s office.

Last week the jury of two men and three women found Mataupu Mamona guilty of the felony assault and the misdemeanors, but acquitted him on the murder charge.

Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Gerald Murphy, while Public Defender Douglas Fiaui represented the defendant, who has been in jail since August 2016. The father vehemently denies that he killed his wife, which led to the jury trial that started last week Monday and ended Thursday afternoon, the same week.

Following the trial last week, Amituana’i told Samoa News that the evidence/ testimony of this case more than adequately proved beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.

The first-degree assault charges are Class A felonies, which are punishable by life imprisonment or between 10 and 30 years in jail. The remaining charges of false reporting and PPD’s are misdemeanors.

BACKGROUND

During the trial last week, the jury heard from the government’s main witness, the nine-year old son of the defendant, who alleged he saw what happened inside the bedroom through a hole in the door. At the trial, the young boy put up his two hands and put his two thumbs together and his two index fingers together to describe how big the hole was. According to the 9-year old, his father held his mother’s head with his right hand and tied the rope around her neck with his left hand.

Murphy asked what happened to his mother then; and he said she was “mole” (out of breath). The boy further told the court that he was standing there while his father was doing this and his father told him, “Don’t tell anyone or I will beat you” in Samoan. “After that he changed my mother’s clothes and he told me to get ice water but she could not drink it and then he called the ambulance,” the witness said.

According to the witness, his father told the Emergency Medical Services that his mother had asthma. Murphy asked the witness if his mother had asthma and he replied, “No, he told them (EMS) that she has asthma.”

The Public Defender explained that the defendant had found another man’s clothes and undergarments inside the vehicle he shared with his wife, and when he confronted his wife, they got into an argument and she denied being unfaithful. 

He said that the wife was angry and the argument continued through the night and the next day, Mamona went to work and did not answer any of his wife’s phone calls. Mamona then returned during lunch hour and they argued again. He picked up their kids the same day after school and they continued to argue. Mamona then left the house and while in Malaeimi his wife called him and said, “You see what’s going to happen.” The defendant then turned around and went home and inside their bedroom he found his wife hanging from a rope. He grabbed her and removed the rope and laid her on the floor.

The Public Defender told the jury that Mamona tried to revive his wife, as she was unconscious. He kept on punching her chest and shaking her shoulders and then she finally breathed and when he looked up he saw his son (the main witness) standing at the door.

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