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Rental dispute lands homeowner in jail — charged with assault

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A woman who requested police assistance at her residence in Leone and reported that a 50-year old woman who rents her house damaged a door inside her home was arrested by police this week and accused of assaulting two people.

According to the government’s case against Melody Afoa, the incident occurred on June 7, 2018, however, the case was only filed in court last week and Afoa was served with a copy of the arrest warrant over the weekend.

Afoa made her initial appearance in District Court on Monday this week. She is being charged with 2nd degree assault, a class D felony, and 3rd degree assault, a class A misdemeanor.

During her initial appearance, District Court Judge Fiti Sunia established $6,000 bail for Afoa, subject to several conditions including having no contact with both victims or government witnesses. She also was ordered not leave or attempt to leave the territory, and make all of her court appearances.

Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson represents Afoa while Assistant Attorney General, Woodrow Pengelly appeared on behalf of the government.

After her initial appearance, Afoa was remanded to custody and re-appeared in court yesterday morning for her Status hearing.

When Afoa’s case was called, attorneys from both sides informed the court that they are ready for the defendant’s preliminary hearing (PX), to determine whether there is probable cause to bind the felony charge of 2nd degree assault to High Court.

Sunia then asked the government to call their witness, however, the government attorney informed the court that they are not prepared to call a witness for the PX, which led the judge to dismiss the felony charge against Afoa after the gov’t did not present any witnesses during the PX hearing.

However, immediately after the court dismissed the felony charge, the prosecutor informed the court that the government has filed a new criminal complaint against Afoa, where she has been charged with 3rd degree assault, a class A misdemeanor.

After the government filed the new misdemeanor charge against Afoa, Anderson informed the court that his client wished to enter a plea of not guilty to the charge.

Sunia acknowledged the not guilty plea from Afoa, and her first pretrial conference is now set for next month. She was then released on her own recognizance.


The government claimed that it was around 6:44 p.m. on June 7, 2018 when Afoa called Leone Police Substation to request police assistance at her residence in Leone behind the Calvary Chapel. DPS police officer S. Faiai, who is the lead investigator, along with two other police officers responded to the incident, and met up with Afoa.

Afoa told police officers that a 50-year old female had damaged a door inside her home. According to Afoa, the woman had been living at the residence since October without paying rent, but making repairs and doing yard work at the residence. She also contributed $50 to the debit meter every month.

Afoa told police that when this 50-year old female did not contribute $50 that month, she turned off the power to her side of the residence, prompting the female to damage the door of her (Afoa’s) home. Afoa then became angry so she came outside and grabbed a stick and hit the woman with it.

After giving her side of the story to police, Afoa then pointed police to the location where the female and her children are now residing, which is a house nearby Afoa’s residence.

After speaking with Afoa, police officers spoke to the female who Afoa is accusing of damaging the door of her home.

During an interview with police, the woman told police that she had gone over to the house that evening with her two children — an 18-year old daughter and a 25-year old son, to gather up some belongings.

According to the female, her son was angry about the power being turned off on them and began flipping tables. Afoa came out, slamming the door, which caused the damage. It was not her and her children who caused the damage to the door, she said.

Afoa then came at her with a piece of lumber, striking her first on the shoulder then on her left palm, causing it to swell up, and the third blow was blocked by her daughter. This resulted in a bruise on her daughter’s right forearm and bruising near her right eye.

The daughter was interviewed and she told police that she went with her mother to gather some belongings when she saw Afoa strike her mom with a piece of lumber twice and jumped in to protect her mom on the third swing.

The son was also interviewed and he admitted to getting angry about the power being turned off and punching holes in the wall.

EMS was contacted and the 50-year old female was transported to LBJ hospital. Her medical records were subsequently obtained and revealed repeated vomiting. An x-ray revealed she had a dislocated shoulder joint. She was kept overnight and discharged the afternoon of June 8, 2018.