High Court issues another bench warrant
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The High Court issued another bench warrant last Friday for yet another defendant who is accused of disobeying conditions of his probation.
The Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing for Faaili Mata’u, a.k.a ‘Whistle” was scheduled for last Friday, after the Probation Office filed a revocation motion in court, when Mata’u failed to comply with several conditions of his release.
According to the Chief Probation Officer, Mata’u was sentenced about a month ago. He came in to their office about 2 weeks later and provided a urine sample, which tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse asked the defendant’s attorney, Michael White whether he had a chance to communicate with his client, and White said no.
Kruse then issued a bench warrant; and attorneys from both sides did not object.
“Marshal, find this man and hold him in custody until his next court appearance,” Kruse said.
During his sentencing last month, following a conviction for unlawful possession of marijuana, Mata'u was ordered to remain alcohol and drug free.
As a condition of his 5-year probation, Mata’u was ordered to serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF); however, after the court accepted the attorney’s submission and the defendant’s apology, the court ordered the defendant to only serve 4 1/2 months in prison, which he already served during pretrial confinement — with the remaining 15 1/2 months stayed.
During his sentencing last month, Kruse told Mata’u that the only reason the court accepted his apology was because he mentioned something about going back home to care for his sick father’s sister.
“We can allow you another chance to go home but we’re not sure whether you will be going back to your same old lifestyle if we grant you a second chance. And if you go back to your old lifestyle and the police find you again with some drugs, the government will spend its resources to take care of you,” Kruse told the defendant.
Mata’u was arrested after police found him sleeping at a bus stop with marijuana and little ice on him. According to the police investigation, the defendant has a drug addiction problem.
A 39-year-old man from Iliili who is accused of using a rock to assault another man has been arrested and charged with felonious second degree assault and two misdemeanor charges: property damage and unlawful use of a weapon.
Jacob Lalovili made his initial appearance in the District Court this week where he waived his right to a preliminary examination. His next court appearance will be this Friday at 9 a.m. in the High Court where he is expected to enter a not guilty plea.
According to the government, Lalovili and the victim got into a disagreement and the victim allegedly attempted to assault Lalovili but in the end, it was Lalovili who assaulted the victim — with a rock.
Lalovili’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson, asked the court for a reduction of bail — from $5,000 to $1,000.
Anderson told the court his client is a hardworking man and he’s the only member of his family who works to provide for his wife and two children. He said his client is not a flight risk and he has no intention of leaving his family.
Prosecutor Jillian Sadler opposed the defense’s motion, saying bail set by the court is the appropriate amount for the offense the defendant is accused of.
District Court Judge Fiti Sunia denied the defense’s motion and bail remains at $5,000; and because he is unable to post bond, Lalovili remains in custody at the TCF.