Jury trial of father charged with raping biological daughter starts
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The jury trial of a man accused of raping his 16-year-old biological daughter got underway in High Court yesterday morning.
Presiding in the case is Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea, assisted by Associate Judges Su’apaia J. Pereira and Paepae I. Faiai.
A six-member jury — all women was selected this past Monday.
The defendant, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $30,000 surety bond, is represented by Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Kristine Soule’.
The defendant is charged with one count of rape and one count of sodomy, both class B felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment for 5 to 15 years; along with one count of 1st degree sexual abuse and one count of incest, both class D felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of $5,000, but not less than $150 pursuant to 47.0402, or both such fine and imprisonment.
Soule’ in her opening statement told jurors the evidence that the government is going to present during the trial will speak for itself and will prove that the defendant committed the crime.
Defense attorney Anderson told the jury that his client was at his home when cops called him to come to the police station to discuss a criminal complaint against him. He stated that his client is innocent.
PROSECUTOR’S OPENING STATEMENT
Soule’ opening statement focused on the alleged event that took place on Mar. 4, 2021, where the victim was sexual abused by her own father. It happened in the victim’s bedroom, according to Soule’ and the victim was awakened by her father allegedly inappropriately touching her.
The victim tried to stand up and run away because she was scared, but her father was too strong, so she tried to push him away — all the while he continued to touch her inappropriately.
She was finally able to free herself from her father when she grabbed a pencil that was lying on the floor and stabbed the defendant in the neck and quickly ran to her grandmother’s room for help.
Soule’ asked members of the jury to take a close look at the evidence and return with a guilty verdict against the defendant.
DEFENSE’S OPENING STATEMENT
In his opening statement, defense attorney Anderson told the jury that on Mar. 6th, police contacted his client at his home and informed him that there was a complaint against him regarding his daughter and he needed to come to the police station to discuss the matter at hand.
His client did not refuse to go to the police station because he had no idea what this matter was about. When investigators questioned his client on that day, his client told investigators that he didn’t know anything about what they said and he’s innocent because he never would do such a thing to his own daughter.
Since that day up until today (yesterday), Anderson said his client continues to maintain his innocence because he understands that nothing happened between him and his daughter.
The defense attorney reminded members of the jury that their duty is to examine all evidence and make sure to keep an open mind throughout the whole trial and that the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
GOVERNMENT’S FIRST AND ONLY WITNESS
The government called their first and their only witness to the stand, the victim in this case.
Before the victim entered the court room to testify, Patea asked Soule’s if the government witness is a minor or an adult. Soule’ replied, a minor.
Patea then stated that the court has granted the government’s motion to exclude the media and ordered members of the media to leave the courtroom.
The government rested their case after the victim testified.
MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL
After the government presented their evidence, the defense attorney, Anderson moved for an acquittal, arguing that the government presented no evidence to prove the allegation against his client.
The prosecutor opposed the motion. Soule’ pointed out to the court that the victim’s testimony was more than enough to prove the allegation against the defendant.
After reviewing evidence presented by the government, Patea stated that based on the evidence, the motion to dismiss count one, rape was dismissed.
The court noted that there was information to support the remaining three counts against the defendant and it’s the jury’s duty to examine the evidence and come up with a verdict.
The defense testimony and closing arguments in tomorrow's issue.