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Twenty-two arrested by police since last week Thursday

[SN file photo]
Charges range from PPD, domestic violence, underage drinking to stealing & burglary

Twenty-two people were arrested by police since Thursday of last week and appeared in District Court yesterday morning for their initial appearances. Of the cases in court, 15 of them were in court for private peace disturbances, 3 were arrested for domestic violence, 2 were arrested for stealing and burglary and 2 for underage drinking.

According to a senior police officer who was interviewed by Samoa News, among those taken into custody by police were those who were under the influence of alcohol, while others were arrested after they were found on other people’s premises on Friday night and Saturday morning.

District Court, on Monday morning, was packed with families of those who were taken into custody during the unexpected 4-day weekend.

A frustrated woman told Samoa News outside of the court house that her husband was picked up by police on Thursday evening around 6 p.m. near their home in Pago Pago, after he was involved in a fight with other village males, and he (husband) was sleeping nicely in prison, while she was trying to make sure her four little ones were safe during Tropical Storm Gita that hit the island last Friday.

District Court started late — after 8:30 a.m. its normal starting time — due to District Court Judge Fiti Sunia first reviewing all the police reports and documents for all cases that were filed in court.

During their initial appearance hearings, everyone who was in custody was informed of the nature of the charges against them, and also provided with a copy of the charges.

The majority were released on their own recognizance (OR), however the two that were charged with felony stealing and burglary had the court set each with bond at $1,000, while the government continues their investigation.

The two are Vincent Aupaau and Sam Tavita. Court filings also state that both Aupaau and Tavita served time in jail after they were convicted by the High Court back in 2015 for felony stealing and burglary. They are currently out on probation, and the government is seeking to have their probations revoked.

Police arrested Aupaau on Thursday night while Tavita was arrested on Saturday morning.

According to court filings, Aupaau is accused of forcing his way into three different homes in the Tafuna area, between December 2017 to January this year. According to the government’s case, at one of the homes, the defendant entered a bedroom where a young woman was sleeping and he stood there for a moment.

The woman screamed, waking up her brother and husband who chased after him but he managed to escape. The same incident was repeated at another home in the Tafuna area where the defendant allegedly broke into a residence during the night and stole several items from the house. He also managed to get away that time.

But in the third home he allegedly broke into, a young man saw him and alerted his father who caught the defendant as he was trying to jump out of a window. Two other individuals assisted the father to hold Aupaau while awaiting police to arrive.

The government is charging Aupaau with public peace disturbance while additional charges are suppose to be filed by Thursday this week. Aupaau is still in custody unable to post bond.

For Tavita’s case, he’s being charged with misdemeanor public peace disturbance while the government is also working on filing additional charges against him later on this week. The government is accusing Tavita of breaking into a home and a store in Leone last month, where he allegedly stole several items exceeding $100 in value.

According to the government’s case, while police were investigating a burglary case involving a home and a store in Leone, two eyewitnesses approached police officers and gave them tips on a possible suspect.

One witness told police that the defendant Tavita exchanged one of the power tools he allegedly stole from a home in Leone with the witnesses’ uncle for drugs. Police were able to locate the uncle at his home in Leone and interviewed him in regards to the alleged incident. The uncle confirmed to police that a boy named “Big Sam” came to his home early last month with a circular saw and asked for money to pay his brother’s fare to Samoa.

The uncle took the saw and gave the defendant $100 to help him with his brother’s trip to Samoa. The uncle also told police that he does not know the defendant personally, but only from construction work they did last year, where Big Sam worked as a labor carpenter at the time.

Another witness told police that Tavita asked him if he could help him burglarize the store in Leone. The witness refused to assist Tavita; and a few days later, the witness heard the news in the village that police were looking for a person or persons who broke into the store and stole several items.

Police were able to locate the defendant last week and arrested him while still investigating this matter.