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Court sentences man found in LBJ parking lot, in his vehicle, smoking meth

American Samoa High Court building
He gets 5 years probation

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chief Justice Michael Kruse told a 58-year-old man convicted of unlawful possession of a glass pipe containing methamphetamine that he can’t support his family if he supports himself with his meth problem.

“You’re asking the court for a second chance to go back home to support your wife and children, but you can’t support your family if you support your meth,” Kruse told Onosa’i Navelika during sentencing last Friday.

Navelika’s quick response was, “Yes your honor, no more illegal drugs. I promise you — no more.” Navelika was released on his own recognizance after he changed his plea in March of this year.

He was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony punishable by not less than nor more than 10 years, and a fine between $5,000 and $20,000.

Under a plea agreement, Navelika pled guilty to a lesser-amended charge, a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

With his guilty plea, Navelika admits that on Dec. 26, 2018, while sitting in his vehicle at the LBJ parking lot, he smoked meth so he could stay awake. He also admits that the meth was in a glass pipe that was in his possession.

Navelika was in custody since his arrest last December, unable to post a $5,000 surety; however, after the court accepted his change of plea on Feb. 28, 2019, Kruse accepted the defense request to release him on his own recognizance to await sentencing.

Navelika first apologized and then said, “I was lost that day, when my grandchild was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the LBJ Hospital and I didn't know what to do. I needed help that day and that’s why I committed this crime.”

“What I did was wrong and I know I hurt my family, my village, my church, especially my wife and children. I am truly remorseful for my action and I assure you, your honor, that I will never smoke ice again.”

The defendant begged the court for a second chance so he can continue to support his wife and children and provide for their needs. He said ever since the day he was released, he never went back to his old life nor did he hang around with his old friends, but he used that time wisely, to support his family and do good work for them.

Defense attorney Rob McNeill asked the court to give his client a second chance to prove him self. He said his client told the truth, by admitting that he smoked meth to keep awake, and Navelika is a suitable candidate for probation, as he has no prior record.

Prosecutor Laura Garvey echoed the defense submission and said the government believes Navelika has learned his lesson.

Navelika was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000. Execution of the sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 5 years, subject to certain conditions.

He shall serve 20 months at TCF, with credit for time served.

The remaining period is stayed until further order of the court.

Navelika is not to possess any illegal drugs and he must remain sober.