FUIVAI SUA AND LUALIMA TALIU
Two men accused by the government of stealing and burglary, are back in the Territorial Correctional Facility to await their pretrial conference hearing set for Sept. 26th in the High Court.
Fuivai Sua, who is charged with one felony count of stealing, and Lualima Taliu, charged with one count each of felony stealing and burglary, were arraigned in High Court last Friday where they both entered 'not guilty' pleas.
Charges against the defendants stem from an incident early last month in which the pair allegedly broke into a home and took off with personal property. The homeowner was off island during the time of the alleged break-in and only learned of the incident when he returned to the territory
Among the alleged stolen property were 10 cases of pisupo, 10 cases of wahoo, a gold chain, DVD players along with DVDs, and clothing that included several men’s suits.
During the investigation, police were able to interview witnesses, who stated that the defendants had sold the cases of pisupo to families. Police were able to locate the defendants and interview them.
Since their arrest, both defendants have been unable to post the $15,000 bond and both were remanded back to custody. If the defendants are able to post bail, the court has set several conditions of release, which include prohibition from making any direct or indirect contact with the witnesses, including the homeowner in the case.
Public Defender Douglas Fiaui is representing Sua and Taliu, while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General, Kristy Dunn.
While the High Court last Friday accepted Public Defender Douglas Fiaui’s request to continue for two-weeks a status hearing for his client Tao Liu, Chief Justice Michael Kruse said the court doesn't want to see the past habit by attorneys, who wait until the last minute to reach and sign plea agreements between both sides, making it difficult for the court to reschedule cases on its calendar.
Kruse said there are many times that a jury trial date is near when both sides in a last minute announcement say a plea agreement has been reached. He said the court calendar on jury trials is booked up to 2020.
Fiaui explained that the new felony charge against his client is the reason for the delay in getting a plea agreement in place, as both sides want to include this charge as part of that agreement.
Liu was charged last August with eleven counts including possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, unlawful possession of the controlled substance marijuana, unlawful possession of the controlled substance methamphetamine, possession of an unlicensed firearm, resisting arrest, careless driving, and public peace disturbance.
While he was held in custody without bail, Liu allegedly escaped from confinement on the evening of Oct. 2, 2016 and was located the following day. It's alleged that another inmate helped Liu in his escape from jail.
A 56-year old man, accused of assaulting relatives in two separate incidents, including one where he allegedly put a knife to his sister-in-law’s throat, has reached a plea agreement with the government; and the defendant returns to court in September for sentencing.
For the two cases, Solomona Teofilo was charged with three felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon, and five misdemeanor counts — three for third degree assault and two for public peace disturbance.
As previously reported by Samoa News, based on court information, Teofilo was arrested and charged last October for allegedly assaulting his sister-in-law. He is accused of also putting a knife to the victim’s neck. In late May or early June this year, he was charged with assaulting yet another family member.
Teofilo was in High Court early this week for a 'change of plea' hearing, during which a plea agreement was read and accepted by the court. The defendant pled guilty to one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon - referring to the knife - and the rest of the charges were dismissed.
For his guilty plea, Teofilo admitted that some time on Sept. 8, 2016 an argument ensued between him and his sister-in-law over a vehicle that the defendant wanted to use, but the sister-in-law told him to call her husband (the defendant’s brother).
As the argument got heated, the defendant put a sharp knife to the neck of the victim and threatened to kill her.
Under the plea agreement, the government agrees for the defendant to serve six months in jail and thereafter, depart the territory and return to his home country.
Teofilo, who remains in custody, will be sentenced Sept. 1
Vincent Viliamu who was convicted in District Court of misdemeanor third degree assault has been sentenced to 12 months probation, under several conditions.
He is not to consume alcohol, he must be a law abiding citizen, and he must apologize to the victim in the presence a Probation Office representative.
Additionally, he is to attend and complete anger management counseling.
During sentencing earlier this week, Viliamu apologized for his actions and sought leniency in sentencing that would allow him to continue working to care for his family. He also apologized to the victim and asked for forgiveness.
According to court information, the defendant assaulted the victim for swearing at his children. Attorneys for both sides have told the court that both the defendant and the victim have resolved their differences and the victim has accepted the defendant’s apology.
However, District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia told the defendant that his action could have resulted in serious injuries to the victim, or worse - the loss of a life, as the defendant couldn’t control his anger.
(Original Samoan stories published Samoa News online July 29 and in today’s Lali section.)