Sentencing postponed for three defendants in beating death
The three defendants charged in the beating death of Sio “Chico” Faumui last year June, have pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide, and each expressed remorse during their sentencing on Wednesday.
The hearing was presided over by Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, accompanied on the bench by Associate Judges, Mamea Sala Jr and Muasau Tasina Tofili.
Ne’emia Poamo, Migo Misa and Sefo Siaulaiga, all pled guilty to the amended count of criminally negligent homicide, a lesser charge, which is a class D felony punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
The criminal charge to which the defendants pled guilty was amended from second degree murder, the original criminal count they were facing. Poamo and Misa are represented by Assistant Public Defenders Mike White and Karen Shelley while David Vargas represents Siaulaiga.
According to the plea agreement that was read in court during the hearing, each defendant admitted to punching Sio on the face, which led to his death.
Siaulaiga first apologized to the family of Sio Faumui, noting that he’s certain that there is nothing he can do to bring back the deceased. He apologized to the court and his family for his disobedience, which led him before the court, but pleaded with the court for another chance to return home and take care of his parents and family.
He also admitted before the court that he had punched Sio’s face many times.
“I joined a fight that broke out, in which I punched the man (Sio) on his face repeatedly” he said.
His attorney Dave Vargas told the court that he agrees with the recommendations made by the probation office, to place the defendants on probation and have them serve 20 months in jail. Vargas added that his client had been gainfully employed when the incident occurred.
Vargas noted that the death was a tragedy however he does not believe that any of the three defendants intended for this incident to happen. “Alcohol was the primary motivating factor, alcohol is the cause of this case,” he said.
The defense attorney also noted that if the court wishes to have Siaulaga serve his probation in Samoa, the court should consider that Siaulaga does not have family in Samoa and his entire family is here in the territory. Vargas also added that each defendant should pay the amount of $123.20 each for restitution.
Poamo apologized to the court, his parents, his village and church and also to the family of the deceased. Poamo asked the court to please consider his request to return to Hawai’i to further his education and straighten out his life.
Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley, attorney for Poamo, also implored the court to take the recommendations made by the probation office. She reiterated Poamo’s wish to return to school to complete his eduction, given that he did not graduate from high school.
She added that Poamo is a first time offender and has no criminal record.
The court heard from Poamo, during his plea hearing, that he punched the deceased five times. “I got there during the fight and I punched the man (Sio) in the face five times and after that I left, while there were other men involved in the fight.”
The last defendant to take the stand was Migo, who noted that he had squandered his life away while being incarcerated at the Tafuna Correctional Facility. He expressed remorse for what he did, saying, “The time spent inside the jail has taught me a huge lesson.”
Migo apologized to the deceased’s family, the court, the government, his family, wife and kids, for his actions, which led him to jail and caused the separation. He pleaded with the court for leniency in the sentencing.
During his guilty plea hearing, Migo was the first to admit in open court that he punched the victim on his face.
Assistant Public Defender Mike White, told the court that Migo has anger issues and he was not able to control his anger the day of the incident. He asked the court to please consider the probate report recommendation which would sentence the defendant to 20 months in jail.
All three defendants have not been able post bail and have been incarcerated for some 18 months — since June of last year. Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop, said that although the apologies rendered are sincere, this does not take away the fact that it was by their actions that a productive member of society is gone.
The judges recessed for about 15 minutes and called in Chief Probation Office Tauili’ili Silivelio Iosefo several times. Upon returning to the bench, they postponed sentencing until Jan. 18, 2013. Richmond noted that the court needs more time to come up with an appropriate sentence.
The defendants assaulted Faumui of Iliili with their hands and left him unconscious about 15 feet from the main road in Malaeimi.