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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

FELONY ASSAULT FILED AGAINST MAN ACCUSED OF BEATING GIRLFRIEND

Ernie Tao who’s now charged with second degree assault on allegations that he assaulted his girlfriend was arraigned in High Court yesterday morning.

The 23- year-old of Faleniu man is held on bail of $10,000 and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White, while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Julie Pasquale. The defendant entered a plea of not guilty to the criminal charge against him and asked for a pre-trial conference in this matter.

Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond set the pre-trial conference for February 15, 2013.

According to the government’s case, police received a call from a security guard at the Bowling Alley regarding an assault in the parking lot Tuesday evening.

It’s alleged the defendant punched and kicked his girlfriend on the back and on the head and then he struck the victim on the head with a rock.

The government claims the defendant was also assaulted by two men who saw him beating his girlfriend.

PLEA AGREEMENT UNDER ADVISEMENT IN DRUG CASE 

Chief Justice Michael Kruse has taken under advisement the plea agreement in the government’s case against Aaron Wisdom.

Wisdom is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance- marijuana, three counts of possession of unlicensed firearms and one charge of unlawful possession of ammunition. 

However in a plea agreement, announced in the High Court Monday, the defendant pled guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of firearms and unlawful possession of live ammunition which are misdemeanors, while the felony drug charge and one misdemeanor count were dismissed.

According to the plea agreement, the defendant admits that he was in possession of firearms and live ammunition without obtaining license to possess these firearms from the Commissioner of Public Safety.

In the plea agreement, both sides recommend the defendant be placed on probation for the three charges which are to run concurrently, and he would depart and remain outside the territory while on probation. The defendant also agreed to destroy drugs that were found inside the container.

The Chief Justice took the plea under advisement, pending a pre sentence report prepared by the probation office. He also asked the prosecuting attorney to file with the court her reasoning as to why the court should accept the plea agreement under seal.

Ms. Hyde informed the court that she has already filed her reasoning with the court.

According to the government’s case, while Customs Agents were conducting a procedural search of a 20-foot container on Jan. 13, 2012, they discovered what appeared to be a marijuana substance, drug paraphernalia  and several boxes of ammunition and three firearms were also confiscated from the container.

Wisdom, who is from San Diego, California, was in the process of moving to American Samoa when the container was searched. He is out on a surety bond of $20,000. 

ANOTHER DOG BITE CASE

Ioane Passi made his initial appearance in the District Court on Monday on one count of possession of a vicious animal, a class D felony, which carries a jail term of up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

According to the government’s case, on Sept. 6, 2012 it was reported by a nurse at the LBJ hospital that a young boy was receiving medical treatment following an alleged dog bite in Vatia.

The 10-year-old boy told police he was walking with his aunt when he was attacked by two dogs and bitten on the leg. The aunt told police that she was watching over her nephew while his mother was in Samoa.

Court filings say the aunt heard dogs barking and saw four dogs running towards them. She alleged that neither she nor her children provoked the dogs in any way. She said the dogs involved always bark and run toward people passing by.

The aunt said two of the dogs attacked her nephew and she was unable to stop the attack, but she threw rocks at the dogs which eventually caused the dogs to run away. The aunt said her nephew was in tears following the attack given that he was injured.

Court filings say the aunt identified the defendant as the owner of the dogs. It’s alleged that while the dogs were attacking the 10-year-old boy the defendant was standing outside of his house with his children, watching, but did not do anything. The aunt also told police that her brother-in-law was attacked and bitten by some of Passi’s dogs a year ago.

The young boy sustained a five centimeter laceration to his right leg, requiring five stitches to cover the wound, as a result of the attack by the defendant’s dogs.

Passi told police his dogs ran towards the victim because they were being followed by other dogs. Court filings say on Sept. 22, 2012 the police along with an employee of the Department of Agriculture seized the alleged vicious dog involved in the incident.

The bail for the defendant set by the District Court was $500.



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