Man who assaulted “good samaritan” sentenced to 20 months in jail
A man who attacked a “good samaritan” after he had offered to help the defendant’s wife was sentenced to 20 months in jail. This is part of a five-year sentence that was handed down by Chief Justice Michael Kruse last week Friday.
Jovian Toloa, charged with second degree assault, public peace disturbance and endangering the welfare of a child, entered a guilty plea to the assault count while the remaining charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.
Toloa is charged together with Nisani Euini and a male juvenile, however the co-defendant's cases are pending in the District Court on misdemeanor charges.
He apologized for his actions noting that he’s remorseful, and asked the court to allow him the opportunity to return home to care for his family, wife and minor child. He also apologized to the victim in this case and asked that he be forgiven for his wrongdoing.
Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin informed the court that the incident involves family members and the defendant now fully understands the dangers of making assumptions.
Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe recommended that the court sentence the defendant to jail, although she was not opposed to probation. She did however note that additional jail time is warranted, given the increase in assault cases, and this should be a deterrent to members of the public that this type of behavior is unacceptable.
The Chief Justice noted the defendant found his wife in the company of another man in front of a store, and she (the wife) had been gone from home over 24 hours.
The victim's wife is related to the defendant’s wife.
He further stated that the defendant’s wife waved down the victim, who was with his daughter in Fagaalu, asking him for a ride. The victim drove the defendant’s wife to Malaeloa. When she asked that they stop at the store to buy something for her baby, the defendant and two men attacked the victim with a PVC pipe. As a result, the defendant is experiencing tooth problems and dental surgery is needed.
“The victim was attacked for no reason… and what distresses the court, [is that] the defendant decided to be a police officer, prosecutor, judge and jury, and this conduct needs to be discouraged because this is what the court will not tolerate.
“The vigilante himself has to be discouraged; an innocent member of the public was assaulted for no reason,” said Kruse.
He sentenced the defendant to five years in jail, however execution of sentencing was suspended and the defendant placed on probation for a period of five years under certain conditions. The defendant was ordered to serve 20 months in jail, however at the expiration of six months the defendant may apply for work release.
According to the government’s case, the victim, who’s from Alofau, was in Faga’alu, shopping with his five year old daughter, when he was approached by the defendant’s wife who is related to the victim’s wife. She asked him if he could take her home to Malaeloa. It's alleged that upon arrival in Lepuapua, the woman asked the victim to pull over to the store.
Court filings state, the victim was surprised when the woman called out to him to leave, but it was then he was struck with a PVC pipe on the face which resulted in the loss of one of his teeth, and a swollen upper and lower lip.
It's alleged the victim called out to Toloa that his daughter was in the vehicle but the defendant was still hitting the victim with a pipe.
Court filings state the victim told police his daughter was screaming out loud however the defendant, Euini and another person (a juvenile) did not stop beating on him. The government alleges Euini and a juvenile were punching the victim.
It's alleged the woman got into the car and tried to stop Toloa (who’s the father of her baby) and her brother Euini and her juvenile cousin, but her brother pulled her hair and removed her from the car and continued to punch the victim on the face.
Court filings state, the victim attempted to turn the ignition on and when it was in neutral, the juvenile jumped into the car and turned the vehicle off. It is alleged he continued punching the defendant, who covered his face while the three men assaulted him.
It's alleged the victim then pushed out the juvenile from the car and turned the ignition back on, backed up and drove away. Toloa threw a beer bottle at the car, hitting the hood. The victim then headed straight to the West Substation.