Public Defender in rape trial strongly objects to “new” witness
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A Status Hearing in the case against a bus driver who is being accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl last year is scheduled for 8:30 this morning in High Court, to determine whether the government’s expert witness can be allowed to testify during the trial next week.
A Status Hearing on Kirisimasi Faumui’s case was called before Acting Associate Justice, Elvis P. Patea last week, for the court to find out whether both sides are ready for the defendant’s jury trial, which is scheduled for Aug. 20, 2018.
When the case was called, Faumui’s attorney, Public Defender, Michael White informed the court that they strongly object to the government’s move to call a new witness during the trial.
“Your honor, I was never informed by the government that they are going to call an expert witness during the trial. I was only notified of this new witness last week and I don’t have any information about this expert at all. For these reasons, we strongly oppose the government’s motion,” White told the court.
Prosecutor, Woodrow Pengelly informed the court that they did notify the defense about their intention to call this expert as one of their witness in this case. Pengelly stated that the expert that they are planning to call is not someone who did an investigation regarding this specific matter. She is an expert with many years of experience in handling cases like this, and the government feels that her testimony in this case would be helpful for the government’s case.
“The government will submit more reports and details about this expert witness before the trial,” Pengelly told the court. He then asked the court to grant the government’s motion, allowing an expert witness to testify during the defendant’s trial.
White reiterated to the court that he had never heard about this witness before.
“I don’t have a report in front of me about this expert. I need to give a report to our expert so that he can review it and make a move on how we are going forward in the trial. So, now I don’t have a report about this expert, then, I can’t go forward with this trial,” White told the court.
Patea asked Pengelly why he did not bring up the issue about this expert witness during their last hearing in April of this year. Pengelly responded that he doesn’t have an answer for the court’s question. He again stated that having this expert witness testify would be helpful for the government.
Patea broke in and told Pengelly, “It will be helpful for the government but not for the defense.”
He then scheduled another Status Hearing for this case this morning, and ordered that the government bring in their expert witness.
“Come Monday and then we’ll see if your expert can testify during the trial or not,” Patea concluded.
According to the complaint, Faumui is charged with two counts of sodomy; two counts of deviated sexual assault; three counts of first degree sexual abuse; one count of rape and one count of sexual assault.
An affidavit in support of the arrest warrant states that the victim and her mother walked into the Tafuna substation the morning of Apr. 20 of last year to file a complaint against the defendant, who resides around the same neighborhood as the alleged victim and her family.
The 15-year-old high school victim is alleged to have told police that the defendant is 50-plus years old, an aiga bus driver, and that she and the defendant “started a couple-relationship back in August of 2015” after she graduated from 8th grade in elementary school.
She alleges that the defendant had asked her at the time how old she was and she told him 14 years old. While the defendant never asked her out, he allegedly told her that they were “dating and a couple.”
The victim further alleges the defendant would buy her clothing, shoes and food. He also allegedly bought her a cellular phone so they could talk.
Based on the victim’s statement, the government alleges in court filings that between August and December 2015, the victim and the defendant made-out, “French kissing”, but starting in February 2016, their relationship got into sexual contact, which was allegedly initiated by the defendant.
Court filings provided specific months of last year when the victim alleges the defendant touched her in a sexual manner and then had sexual intercourse. The victim alleges they had sexual intercourse about four or five times and the last time was before Christmas of 2016.
The affidavit also provided specific details of sexual intercourse between the victim and the defendant.
Additionally, the victim and defendant spent a lot of the time talking on the phone and on Facebook messenger. Furthermore, the victim alleges the defendant knew the password to her Facebook account and the defendant had deleted all their conversations on Facebook messenger.
The mother of the victim told police that she got suspicious that her daughter and the defendant were having a relationship but was only able to confirm it on Apr. 16, 2017, when a message from the defendant was discovered on the victim’s phone.
Police located Faumui on the afternoon of Apr. 20 this year and he went to the police station, where he was informed of his Constitutional rights and he allegedly signed a waiver and wanted to tell his side of the story, according to the affidavit.
At first, the defendant denied having a relationship with the victim, but he was informed about how the matter was discovered through text messages and Facebook messages he had sent to the victim, according to the affidavit.
Faumui allegedly told police that he had just started a relationship with the victim in April this year. He further stated that he had bought the victim a phone because she told him to buy her a phone so that they could talk.
The defendant also said that he was aware that the victim was a minor because he had asked her.
Faumui alleges that he had asked the victim’s mother for permission to date her daughter and that the mother was aware of their relationship.
According to police, the defendant said that he only sent text messages and Facebook messages to the victim about what he would do to her, but denied ever having sexual intercourse with the victim.
The defendant alleges that he bought her clothing, shoes and food because the victim’s family could not afford to buy her those things. Police said the defendant admitted to kissing the victim, but again denied having sexual intercourse with her.
The defendant also allegedly admitted to deleting the text messages because he did not want anyone to read their private conversations.
According to police, the defendant refused to provide a written statement but stated that his verbal statement was enough. Police allege that during the interview, the defendant “seemed nervous and would change his answers after being asked the same question.”