Case against man accused of trying to kill his wife is now in High Court
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The case against the 46-year-old man from Samoa charged with second degree assault, felonious restrain, and public peace disturbance for allegedly trying to kill his wife has been bound over to High Court where arraignment will take place this morning.
(Samoa News is withholding the defendant’s name, to protect the identity of his wife, the victim).
The court found probable cause to bind the case over to High Court, following a preliminary examination last week. The defense had argued that the defendant did not cause physical injuries to his wife but the court was satisfied with what was presented by the government.
In delivering his decision, District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea said it was clear from the lead investigator’s statement that the victim suffered physical injuries after she jumped out of the moving vehicle.
(The government alleges that the defendant had planned to drive his wife to the far west side and kill her; but everything went south after the woman jumped out of their moving vehicle and was rescued on the road in Leone).
The defendant remains in custody unable to post a $10,000 surety bond.
The lone witness for the government was Det. Tulutuluitao Taliga, the lead investigator.
According to her, when she met with the victim and a female eyewitness at the Leone Substation, the victim was obviously scared - her hands were shaking and there was fear in her tone.
Det. Taliga testified that according to the victim, she and her husband dropped off some family members in Tafuna, before they drove to Leone, in the opposite direction of their home in Nuuuli.
While on the road, the victim said she and her husband got into a verbal argument over rumors that she was having an affair with a bus driver.
The defendant was intoxicated at the time, and the argument became more intense. The man became very angry to point where he was overtaking two cars at a time on the road. The victim told Taliga that she kept asking her husband where they were heading, but he kept telling her to wait and see what was going to happen to them both.
The victim said she asked her husband to stop the car and let her out, and she also asked him to turn the car around and head home. But nonetheless, the defendant kept driving westward. As the vehicle entered Leone, according to what the court was told, the man told his wife that what she did was shameful and embarrassing, and he’s going to beat her, kill her, and leave her body in the ocean where no one will ever find it.
Det. Taliga, upon being asked about the victim’s demeanor during this stage of the interview, said the woman was crying. The victim told Taliga that since they’ve been married, she’s never heard her husband speak this way and she was afraid that he was going to kill her.
It was when the defendant slowed down - because of a speed bump - that the victim jumped out. She then flagged down a car that was behind them.
The driver just happened to be a friend of the victim’s father.
The witness stopped her vehicle and got out, while her niece (who was in the car) called police. As the witness approached the victim, the defendant walked towards the two women and grabbed his wife by the hand, pulling her back to their car. The victim resisted and cried out for help to the witness, who was able to talk the defendant into letting her drive the victim home.
The defendant left and the victim was dropped off to the Leone Substation.
Under cross examination, defense attorney Bob Stuart asked Taliga if she ever interviewed his client. Taliga said the defendant refused to make a statement to police. Stuart asked Taliga if the defendant’s vehicle ever passed their Nuuuli home when they headed to Leone and the witness said no. She said that after dropping off some family members in Fagaima, the defendant’s vehicle headed to the three-corner in Futiga and continued on to Leone.
Stuart asked Taliga if she ever interviewed any family members to confirm that the defendant was drunk on the night of the alleged incident. Taliga replied, no. “Did you determine any reason why the defendant’s vehicle headed to Leone?” Stuart asked. Taliga again said no.
Stuart wanted to know where Taliga got the statements that the defendant told his wife he’s going to kill her and leave her body in the ocean where no one can find her. Taliga said it was from the victim’s statement when she interviewed her.
The government argued that there was enough probable cause to bind the case over to High Court. But the defense said there was no evidence to prove that the defendant physically assaulted the victim, and there was no evidence presented to the court to prove that the defendant’s vehicle passed their home in Nuuuli in an attempt to hold the victim hostage.
In the end, the court sided with the prosecution and the case was bound over.