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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

MAN CHARGED WITH THIRD DUI

The government filed additional charges of felony driving against Heikoti Ha’atoa who has three previous Driving under the Influence (DUI) convictions.

Ha’atoa, who denied the charges when he appeared in District Court yesterday morning, is held on bail of $2,000. The felony driving count is a class D felony punishable up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

The defendant was among those arrested for DUIs during the current three-week national enforcement.

According to the government’s case, police were patrolling the main road in Malaeimi when they came across the defendant, who was allegedly driving in a careless manner. Police pulled the defendant over to find out later the defendant’s driver’s license had been suspended for life.

According to the government’s case, the defendant was convicted for his first DUI on March 17, 2009, where his driver’s license was suspended for over a month.

The second conviction was December 8, 2011 where the court revoked the defendant’s driver’s license for life and he was placed on 60 months probation.

Judge Ward, during the defendant’s DUI case last year, ordered the defendant not to operate any vehicle in the territory and remain a law abiding citizen. A hearing on the defendant’s probation revocation has yet to be scheduled.

VAITOGI DOG OWNER RELEASED FROM JAIL, CASE IN HIGH COURT

A Vaitogi woman who owns a dog that allegedly attacked a seven year old girl back in June was released from jail yesterday.

Matagi Savai’i is charged with possession of a vicious animal, a class D felony punishable up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. 

Her bail which was set at $5,000 was reduced to $1,000 following recommendations by defense counsel and the prosecutor in this matter.

According to the government’s case, police received a call from the victim’s mother that her daughter was allegedly attacked by a dog named “Bruno” owned by Savai’i.

The dog was captured and ‘put down’ in the presence of police officers, according to the police report.

The defendant waived her right to a preliminary examination hearing and is scheduled to be arraigned in High Court today.

SOLOMONA ARU PLEA DEAL ON MONDAY

A fisherman facing charges of deviate sexual assault, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child is scheduled to enter into a plea agreement with the government. Solomona Aru from Solomon Islands is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White.

This is the second time this matter is on calendar for change of plea. In the first hearing, the court determined that a translator was needed to translate the plea agreement, which the defendant had already signed.

When Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond was questioning the defendant, it appeared to the court the defendant did not understand clearly the plea agreement.

This plea is the result of ongoing negotiations during pre-trial conferences that were continued on several occasions.

Details of the plea agreement are not available until read in open court. Aru is alleged to have attempted to rape a woman who was sleeping at home with her young child.

The defendant is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White while prosecuting this matter is Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop.



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