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Two juveniles arrested in connection with Leone High School vandalism, burglary

Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Division for the Department of Public Safety arrested over the weekend two juveniles in connection with the vandalization and burglary of the Leone High School JROTC building back in October. The pair were detained at the Juvenile Detention Center and made their initial appearance before the District Court yesterday.

Samoa News cannot name the defendants because they are juveniles.

Each defendant has been charged with burglary first degree, a class B felony punishable with from up five to 15 years in jail, stealing a class C felony which carries a jail term of up to seven years, a fine of up to $5,000 a fine equal to twice the amount of gain, or both fines and imprisonment. The third charge the two juveniles are facing is property damage, a second degree a class A misdemeanor that is punishable by imprisonment for up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

According to the government’s case, it was reported to police on Oct. 22, 2012 that someone had broken into the LHS, JROTC building, vandalized school property and taken off with several pieces of equipment belonging to the school.

Police officers responded to the call to find the interior of the building ransacked, electronics damaged and school materials scattered all over the classroom. According to the government’s case, Deputy Commissioner Leiseau Laumoli informed the CID Commander Lavata’i Ta’ase Sagapolutele that one of the juveniles involved in the burglary was brought into the LHS office by his mother. 

Police questioned the juvenile, who came forward, declaring his involvement in the burglary. In the presence of his mother, the juvenile admitted to police that he was one of the two juveniles who broke into the school.

Court filings state the juvenile admitted he was accompanying his grandmother to bingo when he met his co-defendant.

The juvenile said he was with his female cousin and the co-defendant and they headed to the school campus as it was got darker.

(Samoa News notes there is no mention in the court filings of his female cousin participating in the break-in and vandalism, only that he was with her when they headed to LHS.)

The defendant explained that when they reached the gymnasium, the co-defendant broke off one of the legs of a metal desk and used it to punch in the door knob to the JROTC building. The juvenile said, while he and the co-defendant were inside the classroom, he grabbed speakers and baseballs hats.

“They used the black flag spray, which they sprayed on almost every desk including the teacher’s desk,” state court records.

According to court filings, the juveniles also wrote names of gangs on the wall and t-shirts — such as SOGI, 2ALA (Vailoa), GTF (Faleniu) ZIONO (Futiga), STUMA (Auma). He further told police, they used a tomato bottle and splashed it on the wall. He said the co-defendant plugged the drill tool and attempted to drill the vault, which was the storage for the M-rifles, however he failed. He added that they ransacked the building before exiting, but they did not but take any laptops.

The juvenile’s mother told police when she saw the speakers and yellow t-shirts inside her son’s room she suspected that the speakers came from somewhere. The mother further told police she also found a box in front of their house containing, a camera, walkie talkie and t-shirts which she concealed and the next day she heard rumors that the JROTC building was burglarized and several items were stolen.

“It was difficult decision to make in returning the stolen items because she loved her son, but she had to do the right thing and turn her son into the police,” say court filings.

The co-defendant upon questioning by police, admitted that he planned the burglary and in his statement to police corroborated the statement the other juvenile had made.

The co-defendant told police that they did not remove any laptop from the JROTC building, but that he damaged a laptop that was on the teacher’s desk, because he had taken his photo using the camera on the laptop.

He also admitted that he still had the three baseball hats from the burglary. The co-defendant’s mother told police she saw a bag containing a walkie talkie, t-shirts and baseball hats and when she asked her son where he got it from, he said it was from his friend. The mother told the co-defendant to return the items back to his friend.

Court filings state that a dollar estimate of the stolen items and property damage, including the smart board, is at least $1,000, with the value of the door that was damaged at $300.

Court filings state there were five names on the table as suspects in this case, however there was insufficient evidence regarding this information.

The pair are represented by Assistant Public Defender Donna Clement while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Terrie Bullinger.