Yandall denies all allegations against him in second day of jury trial
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Joseph Yandall took the stand yesterday morning on the second day of his jury trial, and denied all the allegations made against him by the two alleged victims.
Yandall, who is out on a $75,000 surety bond is charged with one count of child molestation, a felony which carries a maximum 30 year jail sentence if convicted; attempted kidnapping and attempted sexual abuse in the first degree, both class D felonies, each carrying a maximum 5 year jail sentence if convicted.
A six-member jury, one female and five males, was selected Monday to hear the case.
Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General, Christy Dunn, assisted by Deputy Attorney General, Lornalei Meredith, while representing Yandall is private attorney Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde, assisted by another private attorney, Marcellus T. Uiagalelei.
Yandall was the third defense witnesses to the stand, and it took up almost the whole morning for his sworn testimony.
Before Yandall was called to the witness stand, assistant defense attorney Uiagalelei recalled one of the government witnesses, Det. Poutoa I’amanu to the stand, to explain how underage victims in sexual cases are interviewed by police officers.
Det. I’amanu, who attended and completed special training in 2012 on how to conduct interviews involving both underage and adult victims of sex crimes, stated that before interviewing child victims, there should be a comfortable setting for them so that they are more easily able to talk to police during the interview.
Their parent or guardian must be present, along with two police officers during the interviews. One officer asks questions while the other one take notes. And throughout the interview, police officers must not ask “leading questions” to suggest the answer, but must give the chance to the child victim to speak.
“Did you get a chance to interview both female victims in this case?” Uiagalelei asked Det. I’amanu. His response was, “No.”
“So, you weren’t involved when both of the victims were interviewed?” Uiagalelei asked again. Det. I’amanu replied, “No sir.”
Yandall was then called to the stand after Det. I’amanu.
He told the jury he retired from the US Navy in 1992, and he resides in Iliili.
Before he denied the allegations made against him by the two alleged victims, who were identified in the court by their initial s “G.P.” and “T.M.”, Yandall, explained to the jury how he met the two girls.
For “G.P.”, Yandall testified that he knew her when she was a little girl, when their family used to live in a house behind the apartment where he used to live in Nuuuli back in 2005.
Yandall recalled one day in 2005 when he walked up to the stairs to his room, a young boy about 4 years old was sitting on the stair to his room, crying. He asked the boy why he was crying, and the boy replied, he was hungry.
After asking a lot of questions of the young boy, Yandall then took him inside his room and fed him cereal and milk. The next day, the little boy came to his room again, with a little girl, who was later identified as “G.P.”. According to Yandall, “G.P.” and her little brother always came to his room for food because the family could not afford to buy them good food.
Sometimes, the two children asked him to buy their school supplies along with some clothes and shoes, and he did because he treated them like his own grandchildren. Sometimes, “G.P.” called him grandfather and he was happy about it. Yandall said he was able to meet with the mother of the two little children along with their grandmother, and their relationship became closer and closer.
After continuing the relationship with the family for almost two years, the family then moved to a house in Iliili and stayed there for less than a month, before they moved to another house in Taputimu.
Yandall then moved to his new place in Iliili where he’s still living now. Despite living apart from “G.P”, Yandall stated that he always went to the family’s new place in Taputimu to check on the children twice a week, and to see if they needed anything, especially food.
Once he know that there was a need for food, he then went to the store and bought some food and brought it over to the house.
When “G.P.” testified in court, she told the jury that Yandall made some inappropriate sexual actions toward her that made her felt uncomfortable.
“Did you you ever touch “G.P.’s” private part using your tongue while she was inside your car, as she stated in her sworn testimony before the jury,” Uiagalelei asked Yandall. Yandall replied, “No, I didn’t do such a thing to her.
“Did you ever ask her two times to touch your penis,” Uiagalelei asked Yandall. His response was, “No sir.”
For the second victim, “T.M”, Yandall said that there was no time both of these young girls were inside his vehicle.
He told the jury that “T.M.”, who lived few houses from his home in Iliili came to his house one day with her little sister and asked for food. He then told them to go to the kitchen and take whatever is there.
A few months later, “T.M.” called his phone, and when he looked at his phone’s screen, his name “Joe Yandall” appeared on his phone screen with the cell number, “258-1687”. That is when he realized that “T.M.” was the one who stole his phone along with $180 in cash, a speaker from his friend and condoms from his house.
Yandall asked “T.M.” what she wanted, and she asked him to pick her up in front of her house, which was a few homes away in Iliili.
Once “T.M.” jumped inside the car, Yandall then asked her to bring back his phone, but she refused and jumped out of his vehicle.
When asked if he ever tried to touch “T.M.” on the leg, or even attempt to kiss her, Yandall replied, “No.”
The trial resumes today at 9:00 a.m.