Inmate sentenced to an additional 5 years for beating of another inmate charged with rape
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the three inmates convicted of assaulting another inmate inside the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) in October of 2018 was sentenced by the High Court yesterday morning to serve 5 additional years.
In delivering his decision, Chief Justice Michael Kruse said that the sentence against the defendant, Asofa Titio is a clear message to other inmates who violate court orders while serving their detention — that there is no second chance.
Titio, who is already serving a 7 years sentence after being convicted of stealing in 2018 appeared in High Court yesterday morning for sentencing. Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill represented him while Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey prosecuted.
Titio was initially charged with 2nd degree assault and felonious restraint, both class D felonies, punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. He was also charged with 3rd degree assault, a class A misdemeanor.
Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court in December of last year, Titio pled guilty to 2nd degree assault.
With his guilty plea, he admits that on Oct. 20, 2018 he assisted two other inmates, Manu Lefatia and Reggie Vaavale assault another inmate, Nick Mataia. Titio further admits that Lefatia instructed him to go to Mataia’s cell and tell him to come to discuss some issues pertaining the case in which Mataia is being charged.
Once Mataia was inside Lefatia’s cell, Titio closed the cell door and assisted Lefatia and Vaavale in assaulting Mataia by punching and kicking him.
When given the chance to address the court, Titio apologized and said that he's truly remorseful for his actions and wants to go back home to be with his parents and young siblings.
He also apologized to the victim, Mataia for assaulting him inside the TCF.
“Brother, I want you to know that I’m truly remorseful for my action and I also want you to please forgive me for my crime,” Titio said.
He told the court that what ever punishment the court imposes, he will accept.
His only request to the court was to consider the fact that it’s been 3 months since he’s been in isolation detention. His family, including his parents have been unable to visit him, because he’s still being held in isolation.
His defense attorney McNeill asked the court for a light sentence to run concurrently with his client’s current sentence.
However, Prosecutor Garvey asked the court for the maximum sentence, given the fact that the defendant committed another serious crime while he was already serving time for another serious crime.
Garvey further told the court that according to the Pre Sentence Report (PRS), the defendant has a long criminal history in both High Court and District Court, and it appears that he has been given numerous opportunities by the Court.
The court sentenced Titio to 5 years imprisonment, a straight sentence. This sentence will run consecutive to any other detention the defendant is serving now.
For his request to release him from the isolation detention, the court told the defendant that his request should be directed to the warden, not the court.
Associate Judges Faamausili Pomele and Muasau T. Tofili assisted Kruse on the bench.
This case came to light when the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit was notified by a TCF guard on Oct. 20, 2018 that an inmate was allegedly assaulted inside the prison. The government alleged that Mataia was punched in the face, and then the attackers kicked him while he was down. The government further claimed that Lefatia used a chain to punch Mataia’s mouth and later strangled him with it until he was unconscious.
Mataia was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) due to a swelling on the left side of his brain. He was in the ICU for almost a week before he was transferred to the Surgical Ward. Mataia spent over 3 weeks at the LBJ before he was discharged.
Mataia, is one of the three defendants charged in the alleged rape of two 14-year-old girls with the beating occurring just a week after he was arrested on the rape charges.