Ads by Google Ads by Google

Leone man who punched his 11-yr-old nephew is sentenced to 5 years probation

American Samoa High Court building
Nephew mocked his uncle; however, judge says “assault is an assault”

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 29-year-old man convicted of punching his 11-year-old nephew and then striking the boy with the flat end of a machete was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) Tuesday morning, under the condition that he find ways to address his anger problem.

Afasene Hunkin, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond appeared before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia for sentencing. Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn, while Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill represented Hunkin, who was initially charged with abuse of a child, a class D felony; and third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor.

Under a plea agreement with the government — accepted by the court earlier this month — Hunkin pled guilty to felony abuse of a child and the remaining charge was dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Hunkin admits that on Feb. 2, 2019 he punched a boy, 11, causing injuries to the minor’s body.

When given the chance to speak, Hunkin apologized and begged for a second chance so he can return home to care for his family. He said the nearly 7 months he’s spent in jail have made him realize that taking the law into his own hands is not the right thing to do.

“I know what I did was wrong and I take full responsibility for my actions. I’m truly remorseful and I want to go back home to do something good for my family. Please, Your Honor, grant me a second chance so I can rebuild my life and be a good person,” Hunkin said.

He never apologized to the victim, his 11-year-old nephew he assaulted.

McNeill asked the court to adopt the recommendation by Probation, to sentence his client to 5 years probation. He said Hunkin is a family man who worked very hard to care for his family before he was arrested. He then asked the court to allow his client to attend an anger management counseling program. According to McNeill, the victim now resides in Alaska with Hunkin’s sister.

Prosecutor Dunn said that based on the facts of the case, and what happened, the defendant needs to attend and complete an anger management counseling program, because he needs to address his problem. She said he has children on his own, and this incident should not be repeated in the future.

According to a recap of the case, the DPS Leone substation was contacted for assistance after the victim ran to a nearby house “seeking help” claiming his uncle (the defendant) had “hit him with a machete”.

When Hunkin was arrested, police detected a strong odor of alcohol emitting from him.

The victim told police that he was talking to his grandmother at home and "he was surprised to see the defendant walking towards him with a machete". The boy said his uncle “punched and hit him, and he became scared and that's when he ran to his aunt's house for help.”

According to the victim's grandmother, she saw Hunkin approaching the victim with a machete in hand, and Hunkin punching the boy "several times" and then hitting him with the flat side of the machete".

Sunia said that according to the PSR, Hunkin was intoxicated during the time of the offense, and he did this to his own nephew, who is a minor. He said the minor was only mocking Hunkin who took it very serious, and as a result, he used the flat side of the machete to strike the boy.

Sunia noted that Hunkin has a prior record, a third degree assault conviction in District Court about 7 years ago.

Sunia told McNeill that whether this case arose when the victim mocked his uncle, the court feels that assault is an assault, and Hunkin is an adult who should’ve known better and stopped to think twice before he assaulted his nephew.

However, despite the seriousness of the offense, Sunia said the court feels that Hunkin is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.

For abuse of a child, Hunkin was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of the sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.

He has to serve 20 months at the TCF and he will be credited for the 7 months he already served. The balance of detention is stayed until further order of the court, meaning, Hunkin is released from custody and ordered to fine a job to pay his $2,000 fine within the first year of probation.

Hunkin is ordered to remain alcohol and drug free, and he’s subject to random testing.

“It’s now up to you to decide whether you want to comply with orders of the court,” Sunia told Hunkin, adding that the court may reduce the probation term if Hunkin continues to comply with the set conditions.