Anger lands three in court — two blame alcohol — the third says ‘devil make him do it’
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 30-year-old male accused of disturbing the peace on Monday, Nov. 05, 2019 made his initial appearance in District Court last week, where he entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to the charges against him.
Aleki Vavega Jr, also known as “Alex Vavega Jr” is charged with third degree assault, third degree property damage, resisting arrest. and public peace disturbance - all class A misdemeanors.
Defense attorney, Bob Stuart asked the court to release his client on his own recognizance, saying he is a first-time offender and the allegations against him are not serious. The prosecutor did not oppose and Judge Elvis P. Patea granted the motion.
Vavega Jr was released under certain conditions, that include him remaining alcohol and drug free. “You are not allowed to go back to the Asian store compound at any time. If you fail to comply with any of these conditions, you will be brought back to court, and the court will send you to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) and you will stay there until your case is resolved,” Patea told the defendant.
The government claims that on Nov. 05, cops apprehended an individual later identified as Vavega Jr, for disturbing the peace in the parking lot of an Asian-owned store in Tafuna.
Officers working on the west side said they were in the store parking lot when they heard someone shouting profanity, both in Samoan and English. Cops approached the crowd and observed Vavega Jr not only yelling profanities, but also challenging people to a fight.
According to the 52-year-old male victim, he was shocked when a male who appeared highly intoxicated entered the store and punched him in the face. He said he exited the store but the man continued to follow him outside. He then threw a beer can at him, which missed his head but hit and cracked his vehicle’s rear window.
During the booking process, police could smell a strong odor of alcohol on Vavega Jr’s breath and his eyes were bloodshot red. Pretrial conference is Dec. 5.
A man who violated conditions of his 2-year probation which was handed down last year has been ordered to serve out his suspended sentence - which is 20 months.
Etevise Kolani appeared in court last week for a disposition hearing. When given the chance to speak, Kolani apologized and begged for another chance, so he can return home and start anew. He told the court that he has an alcohol and anger problem, and he needs time to address those issues.
Defense attorney Rob McNeill asked the court to modify Kolani’s probation, instead of revoking it. He said Kolani is truly remorseful and he wants to go home to care for his family.
Prosecutor Laura Garvey, however, argued for probation revocations saying Kolani should be ordered to serve out his suspended sentence (20 months) because he disobeyed the court’s order, and this is the only way for him to learn a lesson.
The court agreed.
Kolani appeared in court last month for a preliminary hearing on the allegation that he failed to comply with the probation condition requiring him to be law abiding. He was placed on probation last year, following a June 2018 conviction for unlawful discharge of a firearm.
As a condition of his 2-year probation, Kolani served 4 months at the TCF. A few months after he was sentenced, Kolani assaulted a man and as a result, was convicted in District Court of third-degree assault. He also pled “no contest” to careless driving in another case. He was sentenced to 180 days at the TCF.
A 37-year-old man from Samoa with a criminal history has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders upon release from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of his 5-year probation.
Lokeni Filipo appeared in court last week for sentencing.
Filipo, who was in custody unable to post a $10,000 surety bond, was initially charged with second-degree assault, a felony; and two misdemeanors: third degree assault and public peace disturbance. But under a plea agreement with the government, Filipo pled guilty to second-degree assault. The remaining charges were dismissed.
Filipo admits that on or about Sept. 13, 2018 he caused severe injuries to a 50-year-old male of Tafuna by striking his back with a metal pipe. Filipo told the court it was his anger that made him do it.
Last week, Filipo apologized to the court and begged for another chance. He blamed the devil and said he has an anger problem that he needs to address through counseling. “I want to go home to care for my wife and children. I’m truly remorseful for what I did, it was not me who stirred up everything, it was the devil who was living inside me who tempted me to act violently,” Filipo told the court.
Defense attorney, Rob Anderson asked the court for a probated sentence, with the condition that Filipo attend and complete an anger management counseling program. Due to Filipo’s illegal immigration status, Anderson said he agrees with Probation that his client needs to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.
Filipo has a criminal history. He has 2 convictions for third degree assault in District Court, and another conviction in High Court from 9 years ago when he assaulted his nephew by striking the boy’s head with a machete.
Filipo was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of the sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions. He has to serve 20 months at TCF without release. All but 12 months of detention is stayed, and he is ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation. A copy of the court’s decision shall be served to the Chief Immigration Officer to ensure that Filipo’s name is on their “lookout list”.