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District Court hears numerous assault cases — mostly involving alcohol

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man charged with third degree assault and public peace disturbance has been released on his own recognizance, and is ordered to maintain the peace at home.

Edward Schwenke made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning. His next court appearance is June 12.

According to the government's case, this past Tuesday, May 14, a woman called police for assistance regarding a disturbance at her Nuuuli home. When police arrived, the woman pointed in the direction of the home, where her brother was.

Police say they observed Schwenke standing in his room, arguing with his father and making unreasonable noises. They also detected a strong odor of alcohol emitting from him. When police inquired if he was okay, the defendant said yes, adding that he doesn't know why his family called the police, as he did nothing wrong.

Schwenke was transported to the Tafuna substation where it was revealed that he was a suspect in a case police received 10 minutes prior — an assault in Nuuuli near Jade Restaurant.

Police claim that Schwenke and an Asian man were arguing over a parking spot. The argument escalated to the point where the Asian man contacted police from inside his vehicle. Schwenke responded by allegedly approaching the driver's side of the vehicle, opening the door, and punching the man twice, resulting in the man sustaining a bloody nose. Afterwards, Schwenke allegedly tried to hit the man with a  baseball bat he was holding.

It was a restaurant employee who stepped in and stopped the fight. Schwenke is said to have fled the scene in his car. According to the restaurant owner who transported the man to the LBJ for treatment, the victim's nose was "bleeding uncontrollably."


A man who admits he was intoxicated when he threw a glass on the ground and caused a disturbance at the Bowling Alley has pled guilty to public peace disturbance.

Joseph Falealo appeared in District Court yesterday for a pretrial conference, where he entered his guilty plea and was subsequently sentenced to 6 months probation, with a $100 fine.

Part of the reason why Falealo was arrested was because he didn't have his Immigration ID on him — as required by law — when police picked him up.

When asked by Judge Patea yesterday, Falealo said he has been living in American Samoa for over 20 years.


Man who hit son over the head with metal flask pleads guilty to assault

A man who was intoxicated when he hit his 13-year-old son on the head with a metal flask  has pled guilty to the amended charge of third degree assault (class C misdemeanor) and in return, the charge of public peace disturbance is dismissed.

Lolesio Tominiko is sentenced to 12 months probation under standard conditions. He is also to attend and successfully complete an alcohol counseling program.

Attorneys from both sides had recommended 6 months probation, but Judge Patea noted that this isn't the first time Tominiko has appeared in court. He pointed out that Tominiko has two prior convictions (both involving alcohol) and he was named in two other matters involving assault and private peace disturbance, (although it is unclear whether they were alcohol-related).

In addition to probation, Tominiko is also ordered to pay a $100 fine within 30 days.

The charges against Tominiko stem from an incident that occurred Friday, Jan. 11 when police received a call for assistance from Mesepa. Tominiko was reportedly drunk and disorderly, verbally threatening his wife and shouting profanities at her.

Later, he hit his son on the head with a "silver metal flask”. When cops went to his home, they found Tominiko sleeping in the front of his house. Police say they detected a strong odor of alcohol emitting from him and he barely made it into the police unit, as he was "swaying" side to side.


Judge Elvis P. Patea has ordered an "assessment" for Elizabeth Faatili, 23, who pled guilty to public peace disturbance earlier this week in District Court. In exchange for her guilty plea, the third degree assault charge was dismissed.

In rendering sentence, Judge Patea took particular interest in the woman's age. He asked about her level of education and what she's been doing since she graduated high school.

The court was informed that Faatili is gainfully employed by the American Samoa Government, and she cares for her toddler son.

The case against Faatili is alcohol related and therefore, in addition to 6 months probation, Judge Patea has ordered an 'assessment' instead of alcohol counseling, saying an assessment is needed, to determine what kind of counseling suits Faatili's needs.

He said this is Faatili's first time in court and the court wants to understand if she has a 'dependency' on alcohol.Faatili's next court appearance is June 28.