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Overstayer from Samoa blames the devil for his machete attack

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 47-year-old man from Samoa with a criminal history has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders upon release from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of his 5-year probation.

Tavita Filipo appeared in court last week for sentencing.

Filipo, who was in custody unable to post a $10,000 surety bond, was initially charged with second-degree assault, a felony; and two misdemeanors: third degree assault and public peace disturbance.

But under a plea agreement with the government, Filipo pled guilty to second-degree assault. The remaining charges were dismissed.

Filipo admits that on or about Mar. 13, 2018 he caused severe injuries to Alavini Tanu, a 53-year-old male of Tafuna by striking his back with a machete. Filipo told the court it was his anger that caused him to injure Tanu, who is his neighbor.

Last week, Filipo apologized and begged for another chance to straighten out his life. He blamed the devil for him getting upset quickly and resorting to violence, and said he has an anger problem that he needs to address through counseling.

“I  want to go home to care for my wife and children. I’m truly remorseful for what I did, it was not me who stirred up everything, it was the devil who was living inside me who tempted me to act violently,” Filipo told the court.

“I want to change my life and be a good man. I don’t want to go back to prison,” Filipo said with tears in his eyes.

Defense attorney, Ryan Anderson asked the court for a probated sentence, with the condition that Filipo attend and complete an anger management counseling program.

Due to Filipo’s illegal immigration status, Anderson said he agrees with Probation that his client needs to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.

According to the court, Filipo has a criminal history.

He has 2 convictions for third degree assault in District Court, and another conviction in High Court from 11 years ago when he assaulted his nephew by striking the boy’s head with a metal pipe.

Filipo was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of the sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions.

He has to serve 20 months at TCF without release. All but 12 months of detention is stayed, and the defendant is ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.

A copy of the court’s decision shall be served to the Chief Immigration Officer to ensure that Filipo’s name is on their “lookout list”.