Court Report: Trial of accused Leone shooter posponed
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The jury trial of an inmate accused of escape from confinement and allegedly shooting a man in Leone in the early morning hours of August 12, 2018 is continued until November of this year.
Manu Lefatia’s trial was scheduled to kick-off yesterday morning. The defendant, along with attorneys from both parties, appeared before Chief Justice Michael Kruse for jury selection.
However, when the case was called, defense attorney, Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei requested another continuance, due to his medical condition.
Kruse granted the motion and trial is now set for November.
Lefatia, who is serving time for shooting at the Leone police substation several years ago, faces charges of first degree attempted murder, two counts of first degree assault, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, escape from confinement, and possession of a prohibited weapon.
The victim, Sopi Senio identified Lefatia as the person who shot him and this is corroborated by Sopi’s brother.
A man accused of violating conditions of his 2013 probation told the court he thought his probation was over a year ago.
Arona Malaki, who has a one-year bench warrant with the High Court, appeared last week for a preliminary hearing. He has been in custody since his arrest last month and appeared in District Court on the allegation that he disturbed the public peace.
When Malaki’s case was called, his attorney informed the court that Malaki wished to admit to the allegation that he violated conditions of his probation, by failing to visit the Probation Office once a month, and for not paying his $600 fine.
When given the chance to address the court, Malaki explained that the reason he stopped visiting Probation was because he thought his probation was over. “Throughout the period of my probation, I complied with all of the conditions. I attended alcohol counseling and I also graduated. I paid my restitution and I thought that was it,” Malaki told the court.
He then apologized and asked the court for a second chance so he can return home to care for his elderly parents and find a job to pay his outstanding fine with the court.
“I’m truly remorseful for what I did and I beg the court to grant me another opportunity so I can prove myself and start a new chapter in life. I’m a good person right now, I quit smoking and don’t drink alcohol anymore,” Malaki said.
The court reminded Malaki that he was given another chance when he appeared for sentencing in 2013, after being convicted of breaking into his aunty’s home and stealing several items including $390 cash.
According to the court, Malaki was ordered to serve 28 months at the TCF as a condition of his 7-year probation; however, he only served 12 months. The remaining 16 months was deferred based on good behavior.
And now, one more year before his probation expires, Malaki is before the court for probation violation.