Inmate allowed to seek medical treatment for drug addiction off island
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The High Court has granted a verbal application from an inmate who has a long history of violating drug laws to allow him to seek medical treatment off island, so he will be able to care for his elderly parents and be a good husband and father to his wife and kids.
Viliamu Su’a appeared in court last week for a Deposition Hearing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn.
When given the chance to speak, Su’a, who has been in custody since his arrest in September 2018, apologized and asked for another chance to change his life.
Su’a said that while in custody, he turned 52 and while sitting in his cell everyday, he looked back on his life and realized that he had wasted 51 years of it, dealing with many useless things. “I spent most of my life in jail because of my drug problem. I have not been useful to my parents in the past 51 years of my life. I’m a married man with young children, and I’m also not useful to my wife and kids,” Su’a told the court.
He then begged the court to allow him to seek medical treatment off island so he can change my life. “I want to be a good husband and father, and I want to care for my elderly parents who reside in the states right now.”
Su’a promised he would never again violate any drug laws of the territory, or any other laws. Counsel Anderson asked the court to accept the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR). After reviewing all facts of the case, including Su’a’s plea and submission from his attorney, the court said they were satisfied with the way Su’a presented “the best story of his life”.
According to the court, of the numerous drug defendants who have come before them, this is the first time the court has ever heard “a best story” from someone who has a history of drug convictions.
“We know from your statement that you love your family, but the court wants to emphasize to you that if you never treat your drug problem, you will still be the same person. So, the court has decided to suspend the imposition of your Deposition hearing, under the condition that you will seek medical treatment off island.”
Su’a was told that if he returns to American Samoa and the court sees no changes in him, the court will issue a decision regarding this matter. “We don’t have anything here to help with your drug addiction problem. The only place you can find assistance is….off island.”
The court reminded Su’a about the number of OSCs (Order to Show Cause) pending against him, for failure to comply with conditions of probation. Su’a was informed that if the court adds up all 6 months from each OSC, he would be looking at spending many years at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
“So it’s up to you to decide whether you want to be with your elderly parents, wife and children, or if you want to continue to live the life of a prisoner,” the court said.
According to the PSR, Su’a was born in American Samoa but spent most of his life in the states before returning to the territory in 2009, the same year he had his first run-in with the law.
In 2009 Su’a was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine. In 2010, he was placed on probation for 5 years under the condition that he serve 20 months at the TCF.
In July 18, 2017, he was arrested again on the allegation that he violated several conditions of his 2010 probation. Su’a appeared in court earlier this year in April for his preliminary examination (PX) where it was revealed that a search of Sua’s vehicle on July 18, 2017 under a search warrant issued by the court, netted drug paraphernalia such as empty plastic baggies (the type used in the sale of meth), and a pair of scissors (often used to burn the plastic baggies).
A search of Su’a’s Kokoland home uncovered a glass pipe containing meth, inside the pocket of a jacket that was hanging in one of the tents in front of Su’a’s home, along with paraphernalia such as cut straws and empty plastic baggies, and also live ammunition.
Su’a’s attorney had argued that his client was sentenced in Sept. 2010 for unlawful possession of meth and placed on probation for 5 years, but the government’s new allegation was filed in May 2017, almost 3 years after probation had expired.
While in custody awaiting his case, Su’a was among 4 inmates who tested positive for meth during a drug test conducted by Probation.