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Kruse continues change of plea hearing after defendant seems confused

Chief Justice Michael Kruse

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Halfway through his Change of Plea hearing last Friday, Joe Togitogi seemed confused and therefore, Chief Justice Michael Kruse continued the matter to Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.

Togitogi, 25, is a defendant in two separate cases, for which he is facing charges of escape from confinement, first degree burglary, and attempted escape. Togitogi is alleged to have escaped from confinement while serving 5 years for an assault conviction.

Last Friday in High Court, Togitogi's plea agreement was read aloud. According to the terms, Togitogi would plead guilty to escape from confinement in the first case, a class D felony; and two counts of escape from confinement in the second case. The remaining charges would be dismissed.

When the plea agreement was read, Kruse went through the motions, asking Togitogi if he fully understood what he was agreeing to. Togitogi seemed confused, hence the continuance.

Togitogi's co-defendant Joseph Iakopo is also scheduled to appear in court, also for a Change of Plea hearing.