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Man sentenced to 20 months in jail for stabbing

A man who stabbed another man with a knife was sentenced to 20 months in jail. Nimarote Fina’i was initially charged with public peace disturbance and first degree assault.

However in a plea agreement the defendant pled guilty to second degree assault, amended from first degree while the government moved to dismiss the PPD count.

Sentencing for Fina'i was handed down by Chief Justice Michael Kruse, Chief Associate Judge Logoai Siaki and Associate Judge Fa’amausili Pomele. The defendant apologized for his actions to the victim and his family, the government and the court for violating the laws.

“If I have done any wrong please forgive me” said Fina’i. He further apologized to his wife, his children and his family. The defendant pleaded with the court for another chance to return home and provide for his wife and children because there is no one else working to provide for them.

The defendant’s wife also took the stand, noting that they have four children and her husband was the sole provider for their family. The court heard that the wife does not work, but they are receiving financial assistance from her aunt.

She told the court that the defendant is a good husband who works hard to provide for his family. The wife said she was not aware of a previous altercation, and the night of the incident he was drinking beer.

Assistant Public Defender Mike White told the court that he believes if the defendant had not consumed alcohol, he would have not gotten into this situation. Kruse asked White if he’s blaming the company that makes the beer for the defendant’s actions. The Assistant PD replied, no, he was implying that if the defendant was not intoxicated, he wouldn’t have done what he did.

White pleaded with the court to place his client on probation given that he’s a first time offender. Assistant Attorney General Julie Pasquale asked the court to sentence the defendant to two years in jail, given the seriousness of his crime.

The Chief Justice noted that assaulting someone using a dangerous instrument is the sort of crime that lands a person in jail for life. He said according to the pre sentence report two days prior to the incident there was an altercation between the defendant and the victim.

On the night of the incident, Aug. 18, 2012, the defendant went to the victim’s residence and called out to him, to come outside.

“He did this after he got himself the courage to do so from the beer bottle, and taking with him a knife, when the victim came outside the defendant ambushed him with the knife stabbing him on the upper back,” said Kruse.

The Chief Justice added that fortunately the victim ducked when the defendant stabbed him, but he left an injury with ten stitches.

He added that there are mitigating factors for the defendant in that he’s a first time offender who has no previous record, and he admitted his crime early on.

Kruse pointed out the sad thing is, the man who was stabbed is not the only victim in this case, because the defendant’s wife and kids will now be left without a provider because of the defendant’s actions.

He said the defendant’s submission, “If I had done any wrong”, questions his remorse.

Kruse said one of the judges pointed out as to why the defendant did not think about his children before fetching the beer bottle to be courageous, to go stab the victim with a knife.

The CJ also noted the defendant is a visitor from Samoa and is married to an American Samoan. He added that if the government was to pursue the prosecution of this case, the defendant would have been in jail for a very long time.

For the second degree assault, the defendant was sentenced to five years in jail and for the public peace disturbance count he was sentenced to six months in jail, which are to be served concurrently. However Kruse suspended the sentencing and placed the defendant on probation for five years under certain conditions, including that he remain a law abiding citizen, and serve 20 months in jail without any release, unless for a genuine medical reason or by order of the court.

Upon the completion of his jail time, the defendant is to depart the territory and remain outside the territory for the period of his probation. However, Kruse noted that the court is prepared to revisit this specific condition with a motion filed by his attorney.

The defendant was also ordered not to consume any alcohol, nor enter bars or taverns or congregate with those who are drinking alcohol, and he will be subject to random testing for alcohol and drugs; and after serving the first six months the defendant can ask the court for work release given that he is gainfully employed, which does not involve family farming.

According to the government’s case, police received a call that Fina’i had stabbed another man, and when police responded to the call, they were told the defendant had fled the scene. Court filings state that police found the defendant at his residence, where he told police this was the result of an incident that occurred a month earlier.

Fina’i admitted to police that he stabbed the man once, because the victim and his cousin had beaten him up at their house. According to the government’s case the victim sustained a deep laceration on his back, which required ten stitches.