COURT REPORT: Assault and drug charges predominate court sessions
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 26-year old man from Kokoland was arrested last week on the allegation that he assaulted an Asian man and stole his bag containing his wallet and cell phone.
Valaau Asomau made his initial appearance in District Court last week where he entered a not guilty plea to third degree assault and stealing — both misdemeanors.
At around 9p.m on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, police got an anonymous call regarding an Asian man being assaulted by a Samoan male in front of a Tafuna bus stop.
A male who was at the store — later identified as the victim — told police that he was heading home when Asomau stopped him and asked for $2. When he pulled out his wallet, Asomau punched him in the face causing him to fall down. He then grabbed his wallet and kicked him in his back multiple times before taking off. Asomau also ordered the victim to give him his phone, during the assault.
Asomau was identified by an individual who lives in the area.
He was picked up and arrested by police when he was spotted walking with his girlfriend on a road close to his home. Cops say they detected a strong odor of alcohol on Asomau’s breath and he had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.
Asomau refused to cooperate with police when asked about what happened. He kept saying that if he gets locked up, he’s never getting out because he’s already got a bench warrant for an old case.
When asked about the money and the phone he took from the victim, Asomau said he gave it to his girlfriend, who police were unable to locate.
Asomau was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to appear next month for a pretrial conference.
A man released on a $10,000 surety bond awaiting the outcome of his matter in High Court is now ordered by the court to be remanded back to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) without bond.
Rintel I’atala was arrested by police two weeks ago pursuant to a bench warrant from the court for failure to appear. After a hearing before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia two weeks ago, the court then continued the hearing until tomorrow morning where the government is expected to file a motion to revoke his bond.
Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill is representing I’atala while Assistant Attorney General Kristie Soule is prosecuting the case.
When the case was called yesterday morning, prosecutor Soule asked the court to revoke the defendant’s release on bond, saying that he broke conditions of his release — to remain law abiding and make all of his court appearances.
Last month, according to the government, the defendant was arrested for public peace disturbance (PPD); and he also missed his court hearing in High Court, which was the result of the bench warrant issued by the court.
The government’s attorney further stated to the court that the defendant’s new case is still before Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea and his next hearing is scheduled for June 1st.
Defense attorney, McNeill strongly opposed the government’s motion, noting that the new case pending in District Court (DC) is just an allegation.
However, the court’s position was that it needs to know what happened in the defendant’s new case in District Court. So, in the meantime, the defendant is remanded back to the TCF without bond.
His Status Hearing is now set for July 14th. I’atala’s jury trial is set for Aug. 24, 2020.
I’atala is charged with one count each of illegal possession of marijuana and illegal possession of methamphetamine, both felonies. Bail was set at $10,000.
The charges against I’atala stem from an traffic incident on Feb. 8, 2019, when a police officer noticed that the sticker on the truck I’atala was driving was not current. Asked for his driver’s license, I’atala told the police officer that he had forgotten his license at home and he didn’t have any money to renew his insurance and registration.
An inventory of the vehicle was carried out, in I’atala’s presence, and police discovered drugs in the vehicle at that time.
A 50-year-old man who is on probation for 12 months was arrested last week on the allegation that he assaulted his neighbor while he was intoxicated.
Anthony Viliamu made his initial appearance last week. He is charged with 3rd degree assault, trespass, resisting arrest, and public peace disturbance — all misdemeanors.
During his initial appearance, the court established Viliamu’s bond at $1,000. If he posts bond, the court has ordered the usual restrictions for being released on bond, including not to make any direct or indirect contact with all the government’s witnesses, and not setting foot at or near the victim and his family’s house.
Vilimau is accused of unlawfully walking onto a neighbor’s land and allegedly assaulting his neighbor by punching him in the face multiple times while he (Viliamu) was intoxicated. The victim’s, 19-year-old son told police that this is not the first time the defendant has done this to his father.
According to the son, Viliamu became upset when his father did not do what the defendant wanted him to do. The victim and his family are neighbors with the defendant and there are times the defendant gave instructions to the victim for things he wanted the victim or his children to do. However, the victim instructed his children not to do anything Viliamu instructed them to do.
Two weeks ago, the assault occurred when Viliamu, who had been drinking, followed the victim and asked him why he stopped his son from doing what he instructed him to do. Viliamu had instructed the victim’s son to come and feed his pigs and mow his grass because he didn’t have time to do it. The victim instructed his son not to obey Viliamu’’s instruction.
As the victim tried to explain his side of the story, Viliamu allegedly punched him in the face twice causing the victim to fall down. He then kicked the victim in his back and in the back of his head.
In September of last year, Viliamu was convicted of 3rd degree assault and endangering the welfare of a clild, both class A misdemeanors. He was placed on probation for 12 months subject to conditions that he not consume any alcohol or possess any illegal drugs, and he is to attend and complete an alcohol counseling program.
He was also ordered to be law abiding and to keep the peace with his neighbor. The court ordered Viliamu to serve a period of detention of 120 days and to pay a fine of $100.
On this matter, Viliamu is scheduled to appear in court on June 17th for his pretrial conference.