Judge Patea goes after DPS — Where are the police reports?
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Dept. of Public Safety remains in the line of fire, as the court continues to see cases with no police reports.
Judge Elvis P. Patea told Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell last week that he has a 'long list' of police reports he needs to get from DPS.
"Police reports should be priority," Judge Patea said. He noted during the case against Fulu Gaupule, that the initial appearance was Jan. 10 and now, "a month later" there is still no discovery.
"It is the government's priority to get police reports," Judge Patea said to the prosecutor.
(All three cases against Gaupule have been continued to Feb. 21)
Another case Judge Patea referred to involves defendant Pham Ngoc Dat, who appeared in court Oct. 9, Nov. 2, Dec. 7, and Jan. 9 and discovery was only received last Tuesday. His case is now continued to March 6.
A 52-year-old woman from Aunu'u accused of assaulting a 16-year-old boy with a stick, made her initial appearance in District Court last Thursday.
Pesega Malaefono is charged with third degree assault, private peace disturbance, and endangering the welfare of a child, for an incident that occurred in Alofau last Wednesday, Feb. 6.
According to the government's case, police were called for assistance by the victim's aunty, who claimed that Malaefono had struck the boy on the head and shoulder with a stick. Police were told that this isn't the first time Malaefono had assaulted the victim "like this".
The criminal complaint notes that Malaefono became upset when the victim refused to pick up the trash in the yard, as she had instructed him to. A verbal altercation ensued.
Investigators claim that when they questioned Malaefono, she admitted that she was "angry" with the victim.
Malaefono's next court appearance is set for March 7. She was released on her own recognizance, with standard conditions. In addition, Judge Elvis P. Patea has ordered her not to "harass, threaten, or disturb the peace" with the victim, and she is not to leave the territory without prior permission from the court.
LEFATIA AH KIONG
A man who failed to appear in District Court last Thursday was remanded back to custody on Friday morning.
Lefatia Ah Kiong, facing multiple traffic violations and misdemeanor charges including third degree assault, appeared in court last Friday on a bench warrant that was issued by the court the day before.
Lefatia was out on a $500 bond which Judge Elvis P. Patea forfeited on Thursday when he didn't show up to court.
When asked by the judge, Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells confirmed on Friday that a police report has been received. "There is no reason to drag this out," Judge Patea said, before setting a court date of Feb. 22 to get the matters resolved or otherwise, the case will go to trial.
The defense had requested to quash the bench warrant; but Judge Patea denied it, noting that Lefatia is facing charges in three separate cases.
Lefatia was remanded back to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) with bail set at $1,000
PEA TOSO II a.k.a. FAITASI
Pretrial conference for an overstayer being held at the TCF with no bail due to his immigration status is continued to Feb. 22.
On that day, the matter is to be resolved or otherwise, it will be set for trial, said Judge Elvis P. Patea.
According to Immigration, the defendant entered the territory on a 30-day permit between August and September of last year.
"I don't think any amount of updating can erase that status, unless I'm missing something," Patea said.
Toso is facing one count each of trespassing and property damage.
A man facing charges of trespassing and contempt is back in custody, and his pretrial conference is set for Feb. 22.
The request from Misitama West to be released on his own recognizance was denied by Judge Patea last Friday.
On Dec. 31, 2018, West made his initial appearance in District Court on the charge of contempt. Presiding Judge Fiti Sunia told West at the time that there is a pending matter involving a civil protection order against him and "you need to observe that."
West was ordered not to make any direct or indirect contact with the victim in his case.
Samoa News understands that West did not comply with the court's order.
Pham is charged with public peace disturbance, unlawful possession of a prohibited weapon and unlawful use of a weapon — all misdemeanors — for allegedly using a homemade air rifle to shoot chickens in the hills across from the Atu'u cannery.
A man who pled guilty to public peace disturbance has been sentenced to 12 months probation.
Lafaele Siomia appeared in District Court last Thursday where he told Judge Patea that he couldn't recall what exactly happened on the day of the incident, because he was too drunk.
He did admit that he got into a verbal altercation with another person, while he was under the influence of alcohol.
During sentencing recommendations, Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells recommended 6 months probation, saying her client has no prior record.
But Judge Patea said this is "not true", as court records show that Siomia has been before the court for 3 DUIs and a trio of public peace disturbance matters.
"You have an alcohol problem," Judge Patea said to the defendant. "But to your credit," the judge continued, "the offenses are from a few years back."
Siomia was sentenced to 12 months probation with standard conditions. He is to remain sober at all times and submit to random testing. He is also ordered to attend and complete an alcohol counseling course.
He was sentenced to 45 days imprisonment but the court deferred all of it, pending good behavior. He also has to pay $100 within 60 days.
A man who threatened to hit another man with a crowbar has been sentenced to 6 months probation, after he pled guilty to public peace disturbance last Thursday in District Court.
Faamoana Leaupepe, 55, admitted to the court that on Oct. 8, 2018 he had no choice but to yell at a man who was disturbing him and his kids while they were sleeping.
The court noted that Leaupepe has a clean record, not even a traffic ticket.
Defense attorney Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells told the court that the incident involving her client was an isolated one, and she recommended probation for 6 months.
Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell did not object.
Judge Patea then sentenced Leaupepe to 15 days in jail but all of it is deferred, with good behavior. A fine of $100 is to be paid in 30 days.
CHUNG SE LEE
An Asian man who was sentenced to probation for 5 years after he was convicted of homicide by vehicle is scheduled to appear in court Apr. 18, 2019 for a disposition hearing, after he admitted to violating conditions of his probation last year.
Chung Se Lee appeared in High Court last Friday for a preliminary hearing. He was represented by private attorney Marcellus T. Uiagalelei, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn.
When the case was called, Uiagalelei informed the court that his client wished to admit to probation violation.
When Chief Justice Michael Kruse inquired about the details of the case, Uiagalelei explained that his client was initially charged with DUI, reckless driving, and causing damage to someone’s property by careless action. However, the reckless driving charge was amended to careless driving and the remaining two charges were dismissed by the court.
Lee was ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF as a condition of a 5-year probation term, after he was found guilt of homicide by vehicle, a class D felony. Lee was the driver of a truck that struck and killed a child in Nuuuli a few years ago.