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Mother granted leniency by court in plea bargain

A sentence handed down by Chief Justice Michael Kruse, who was accompanied on the bench by Chief Associate Judges Logoai Siaki and  Fa’amausili Pomele left  Keihana Talaese of Fagatogo a happy mother when she was released from jail on Friday

Talaese had been charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and escaping from police custody, however she entered into a plea agreement with the government, wherein she pled guilty to escaping from police, while the government moved to dismiss the unlawful possession charge.

According to the plea agreement, Talaese admits that she escaped from police custody when she was arrested for possession of marijuana.

During sentencing, Kruse noted that a formal motion by the government to dismiss the unlawful possession charge had been filed, which the court granted. The defendant was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, and a few days later the government had moved to file the charge of escaping from police custody.

Talaese apologized to the court, the government, the police, her family and her children. She admitted in court that what she’s going through now is a result of disobedience and not following the law; and pleaded with the court to allow her to return home to her children and care for them.

Assistant Public Defender Michael White pleaded with the court to place Talaese on probation, saying that Talaese was not in the right frame of mind when she attempted to escape from police.

White said the defendant was intoxicated when placed under arrest, and when she went to the bathroom she saw an open door and she took off on foot. The Assistant Public Defender added that it was not an elaborate plan of escape.

Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde recommended probation for the defendant.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse noted the defendant was pleading guilty to felony escape when she was arrested for a small quantity of marijuana, and when she saw the opportunity she strolled out of the police station.

Kruse told the defendant “You’re going this route because of your children — you should hug them when you get home tonight.” He sentenced Talaese to five years in prison, however execution of sentence was suspended and she was placed on probation with certain terms and conditions.

Talaese was ordered to serve 12 months in jail, and credited for time served, which is four months. The remaining eight months will be stayed given her good behavior.

She must remain a law abiding citizen, visit the probation officer regularly and must not drink alcohol while under probation. The defendant was also ordered to pay a fine of $1,000.

 According to the government’s case, when Talaese was arrested and while at the police station, she inquired about using the restroom. She then took off on foot and police officers chased her and apprehended her in front of the ANZ bank not far from the police station.

Talaese was charged together with Vaoeli Lafoia, and Hefa Vahe. Lafoia and Vahe have already entered into plea deals with the government.

According to the government’s case police were responding to a public peace disturbance call on the Marina in Fagatogo which led to the arrests of Lafoia, Talaese and Vahe in February.