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Another drug defendant opts for jury trial

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of violating local drug laws has asked the court to set his matter for trial. Uputonu Lui who had been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post $5,000 surety bond, appeared in court two weeks ago for his pretrial conference.

When his case was called, his defense attorney, Ryan Anderson informed the court that they received discovery and an offer from the government, however, after reviewing it, his client wishes to exercise his rights to a jury trial.

The court accepted the defense’s request for a trial, however, the court also informed the defense that due to the COVID-19 restrictions, there are other options they must consider such as a bench trial instead of jury trial.

Lui is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony, punishable by imprisonment of not less than five nor more than 10 years, a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both.

The charge against Lui stems from an incident when police arrested him and another man for disturbing the public peace. During a pat down, a small baggie containing methamphetamine was found by police inside his pants.

When asked about the drugs allegedly found in his possession, Lui told officers that it was a gift from another friend.