Court shows leniency to 2 probationers who tested positive for drugs
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two probationers who tested positive for drugs were given a second chance by the court when they appeared for a Disposition Hearing yesterday morning.
Afasene Hunkin and Tino Fa’avi were both presented by Assistant Public Defender, Rob McNeill, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe.
Hunkin, who has been in custody since his arrest Aug. 21, 2019 after he tested positive for marijuana, apologized to the court and asked for a second chance. He said he wants to return home so he can find a job and care for his family. He told the court he made a terrible mistake and promised it will never happen again.
McNeill asked the court not to revoke his client’s probation but instead, modify its terms and give him another chance to prove that he can change. According to the defense attorney, Hunkin has a problem with alcohol and drugs, and the only way he can address these issues is to allow him to attend counseling programs provided by the Am Samoa Government.
McNeill said his client will never change unless he attends rehabilitation programs to address his problem.
Prosecutor Lowe echoed the defense submission but added that the only problem the government has, is the fact that Hunkin was released on Aug. 20th after he was sentenced to probation. The next day, on Aug. 21st, he tested positive for marijuana during his first visit to the Probation Office.
Associate Justice Fiti Sunia agreed. He told Hunkin that the reason why the court placed him on 5 years probation last month was to allow him to seek employment to care for his family and prove that he can change. “Now, you’re before us for violating conditions of your probation, and the only option we have is to send you back to jail for 5 years,” Sunia told Hunkin, who immediately apologized and said he was wrong and he will never do it again.
Sunia then ordered Hunkin to be escorted to Probation to be tested again before the court delivers its decision. A Probation officer who administered the test came back a few moments later and said the result was negative.
Hunkin was released from jail yesterday, his probation was not revoked.
He’s been ordered to remain alcohol and drug free. Sunia said the court will continue to defer the remainder of Hunkin’s 12-month detention period, as long as he complies with all conditions of probation.
“If you violate anymore conditions of your probation, the court will never grant you anymore chances,” Sunia told Hunkin.
Last month, Hunkin was sentenced to 5 years probation for punching his 11-year-old nephew and then striking the boy with the flat end of the machete. Hunkin was ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF, credited for the 7 months he already served. The balance of detention is stayed until further order of the court, and Hunkin was released from custody on the day of sentencing.
He was also ordered to find a job to pay a $2,000 fine within the first year of probation.
McNeill asked the court not to revoke Fa’avi’s probation, but instead, give him another chance to prove himself. Faavi apologized and begged for a second chance so he can continue to work and care for his family. He told the court that what he did was wrong and he will never smoke ice again.
Just like Hunkin, Fa’avi was ordered to get tested prior to the court handing down its decision. The test results were negative.
Sunia reminded Fa’avi that he was placed on probation with conditions but it appears that not long after he was released from custody in June of this year, he tested positive for meth.
Fa’avi’s probation was not revoked, it was modified. He was ordered to comply with all conditions of probation, especially the condition requiring him to remain alcohol and drug free.
“Fa’avi, you asked for another chance and we are giving you one. So, you got to stop doing drugs. You’re wasting our time, our test kit, and also our resources. You need to stop this, just stop it,” Sunia told the defendant.
In June of last year, Fa’avi was sentenced to 5 years, probation following a conviction for unlawful possession of meth. He was ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF, credited the 7 months he spent in pretrial confinement.
The remaining 13 months was stayed until further order of the court.