Family dispute: Stepfather accuses stepson of stealing his pick up
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with two prior convictions over a decade is back in court again on a new allegation that he stole his stepfather’s vehicle. When pulled over by patrol officers last month, the suspect, Atina Kamu told officers the vehicle belonged to him and his mother, not his stepfather.
Kamu was taken into custody on June. 20th after officers pulled over the vehicle he was driving at a traffic stop. He made his initial appearance in court on the following Monday, June 22nd.
The government charged Kamu in two different cases.
In the first case, he is charged with one count of stealing, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal the twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment.
Bail was set at $5,000.
In the second case, Kamu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, both felonies.
The government claims that on the morning of Apr. 20th, a man from Aua contacted the Central Police Station in Fagatogo for assistance to locate his vehicle, which he said was stolen by his stepson, Kamu, the defendant in this case.
The man further stated to police that he suspected that his stepson allegedly stole his vehicle to sell drugs because he’s a drug dealer.
The dispatcher relayed the information to all the police units and two police officers who received the information while patrolling in the Aua area heading West near the village of Leloaloa and Atu’u spotted the vehicle.
According to the government, the stolen vehicle was a blue pick-up with the license plate number 2197, and was registered under the name, Taavili Ionatana, the stepfather of the defendant.
Two hours after the transmission the officers in Aua observed a blue pick-up that did not stop at a stop sign. Since the vehicle matched the description of the stolen vehicle, police pulled it over.
Officers approached the vehicle and noticed that there were two individuals inside — the driver, who is the defendant and a female passenger, who was later identified as the defendant’s girlfriend.
When told the vehicle he was driving was stolen, the defendant told police that the vehicle belongs to him and his mother, not his stepfather. He further stated to officers that they were heading to the Fagatogo Market to get some banana and taro for the Sunday meal.
Officers told the defendant that they are going to impound the vehicle and he needed to come with them to the CPS for further discussion.
Officers then met up with the defendant’s stepfather at the CPS, where he provided officers with a document, which confirmed that the vehicle is registered in his name.
The defendant on the other hand continued to claim that the vehicle belonged to him and his mother, not his stepfather. He further stated to police that it was his mother who gave him the authority to drive their family vehicle. He said his stepfather didn’t have the authority to change the ownership of the vehicle because it was he (defendant) who bought the vehicle a few years back for his mother and his young siblings.
After further discussion regarding the matter, Kamu was then taken into custody and charged with stealing.
Before he was taken into custody, he was patted down and during the body search, police officers found a small stamped-sized baggie containing green leafy substance, along with a glass pipe (commonly used to smoke meth) containing white crystalline substance inside Kamu’s pocket.
Kamu refused to make a statement to police when he was asked about the illegal drugs.
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION (PX)
During Kamu’s preliminary examination (PX), defense attorney, Bob Stuart wanted to know whether the stolen vehicle really belonged to his client’s stepfather. The government witness told the court that the vehicle is registered under Kamu’s stepfather’s name.
When Stuart asked if there’s any period of time the stepfather gave permission to Kamu to drive the vehicle prior to the day of the alleged incident, the witness replied, “I don’t know.”
Kamu appeared in High Court two weeks ago for arraignment. His pretrial conference is now set for Aug. 9th.
In 2011, Kamu, who was 30 years old at the time of the offense, was charged with attempted rape. He was later convicted and sentenced by the court to 3 years probation. He admitted to the court that he repeatedly forced a 16-year old victim to go with him in his car and his intention was to rape her.
In 2014, Kamu was convicted for violating local drug laws and was sentenced to 5 years probation. His conviction stemmed from an incident after a man contacted police for assistance after Kamu attempted to pick a fight with him, after trying to sell him marijuana cigarettes. When the man didn’t want to buy, Kamu challenged the man to a fight. The man reached for his phone and called police. Police apprehended Kamu and during a body search, officers discovered 5 marijuana cigarettes inside a small baggie in Kamu’s possession.