Court Report

Translated by Samoa News staff

MAN JAILED FOR ASSAULTING SISTER —

A man accused of using the broken wooden handle of a hammer to assault his sister, who was carrying her infant child in her arms, has been sentenced to 15 days in jail, which is one of several conditions of a 24-month probation sentence.

Nicholas Nauer appeared in District Court on Wednesday for sentencing after being convicted of three misdemeanor counts of disturbance the peace in his family, assault in third degree and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to court information, the defendant was upset that his 22-year old sister wasn’t taking good care of her child. The sister and brother both reside in their parent’s home where the incident occurred last month.

During sentencing, District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia had many pointed questions to the defendant, as the court wanted specific details as to what caused Nauer to assault his sister. Among the concerns of the court is the infant child.

Nauer told the court that he was very upset over how his sister was taking care of her child, especially when the infant continues to cry, but his sister would just sit around doing nothing for the child. He told the court that his sister should know better how to care for the infant.

Nauer dismissed the government’s claim that the sister was carrying her infant child when the assault occurred. However, assistant attorney general Woodrow Pengelly argued that the sister was in fact carrying her infant child, when the defendant forced his way into her room and assaulted the victim.

While the court fully understands the faaSamoa when it comes to parents and other family members in teaching as well as disciplining children and younger siblings on behavior, Sunia said it appears the defendant was interfering with how the sister was taking care of her infant child.

Sunia told the defendant that he has no right to interfere with how the sister is caring for her child or how the sister teaches her child right from wrong. The judge said that maybe the defendant can offer suggestions, but not the use of a handle of a hammer to deliver the suggestion.

Assistant public defender Kate Hannaher sought a probative sentence for her client and if the court includes jail time as condition of probation, she asked for a lighter prison term.

For the government, Pengelly requested jail time, arguing that the victim was carrying her infant child, who is less than a year old, in her arms when she was assaulted. And that, said Pengelly, is very serious.

Court information shows that in 2015, Nauer was placed on 18 months probation by the District Court for third degree assault and public peace disturbance; and that probation period was almost over when Nauer assaulted his sister last month.

Sunia, during sentencing on Wednesday, set several conditions for the 24-month probation for the defendant, who was ordered to immediately start serving the 15 days in the Territorial Correctional Facility.

The pre-trial confinement days are counted towards the jail term, which means, according to court information, the defendant will complete the 15-day jail sentence on July 4th.

VENA LUAFUTU

A man taken into police custody last week for allegedly using a sharp weapon to stab another man has been released from the Territorial Correctional Facility, by order of the court, because the government was unable to file additional charges against the accused.

According to court information, Vena Luafutu was taken into custody by police at the Fagaitua police substation and charged with public peace disturbance and third degree assault — all misdemeanors.

During his initial appearance last week Thursday in District Court, the defendant was held without bail to await the government filing additional charges this week, as police were still investigating the case at the time.

Luafutu was in court on Tuesday this week for another hearing, but assistant attorney general Woodrow Pengelly informed District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia that the government would not file additional charges and the two misdemeanor counts stand as the the only charges.

Without additional charges, Sunia ordered the defendant released on his own recognizance and set another hearing for Aug. 8. Among the conditions of release is that the defendant has no direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim of the stabbing and be a law abiding citizen.

To make sure the court’s message is clear, Sunia explained to the defendant what no contact with the victim means, as ordered by the court. For example, the defendant is prohibited from going to victim’s home, and to use social media including Facebook and other modern technologies methods to contact the victim. And when the defendant sees the victim at a public place, Sunia told the defendant, “It’s your responsibility to leave” and stay away from the victim.

According to court information, the incident in Amouli happened when the defendant allegedly assaulted another man and the police were then contacted for assistance. Witnesses told police that Luafutu allegedly used a broken piece of glass to stab the victim’s head, and the victim was then rushed to the hospital. While the motive of the stabbing is unclear, witnesses told police the incident occurred during a beer drinking session.

VINCENT TEVITA

The District Court has set $500 bail for Vincent Tevita, who was taken into custody over the weekend following an incident in Ottoville where the defendant allegedly went to a neighbor’s home with a machete.

Tevita made his initial appearance in court this week and charged with misdemeanor public peace disturbance, but assistant attorney general Woodrow Pengelly says the government may file additional charges as the police investigation continues dealing with possible trespassing and making verbal threats towards the neighbors.

If Tevita is able to post bail, the defendant is ordered by the court not to bother his neighbor or attempt to go onto their property, and is banned from any direct or indirect contact with his neighbor. Tevita, who will appear in court again on July 13, is also prohibited from making any verbal threats to the neighbor.

According to court information, the public peace disturbance charge stems from a disagreement between the defendant and his neighbor over the access road used by both families. Tevita contends that the neighbor should not be using the access road because he and his children have spent a lot of time cleaning it.

However, the neighbor claims that the access road is on their family property and therefore, Tevita and his family should not be using the road any more. The neighbor contacted police for assistance after Tevita allegedly went to the neighbor with a machete in a threatening manner and also used verbal threats towards an elderly man in the neighbor’s family.

It’s alleged that Tevita’s action followed an alcohol drinking session he had with friends at his home.

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