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Repeat DUI offender sentenced to 5-years straight time

Territorial Correctional Facility, TCF

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 35-year old who has a criminal record in the court system is going to jail, after being convicted of driving a motor vehicle while his license was suspended.

David Meredith, who was in custody after being arrested by police last month for failure to appear in High Court for his preliminary examination (PX) appeared in court last Friday for two separate hearings. He was sentenced after being convicted for felony driving while his license was suspended, and faced a Deposition Hearing for failure to comply with conditions of his probation.

He was represented by Public Defender, Michael White, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Woodrow Pengelly.

When given the chance to address the court, Meredith immediately apologized for his actions and begged for a second chance to go back home and care for his family.

He told the court that all of his life, he had depended on his mother to guide him in every step of his life, however, huge changes were seen in his life after his mother passed away few years ago.

“Ever since my mother passed, my life has fallen apart and I don’t know why. Every time I tried my best to be a good man, unfortunately, every time I tried, I failed. I have an alcohol problem which caused problems in my life,” Meredith told the court.

He told the court that he comes from a big family in American Samoa, however, ever since he has been locked up in prison, no one ever came to visit him. He said that he’s truly remorseful for what he did and he will never offend again.

“Please your honor, I beg you to allow me one more chance so that I can prove to you that I’m a changed person. I will never break any laws nor consume alcohol, but I will be a good citizen for the rest of my life,” Meredith concluded.

His attorney did not wish to make any submission to the court on behalf of Meredith.

However, Prosecutor Pengelly asked the court to sentence Meredith to the maximum imprisonment sentence. He told the court that the defendant received a lot of opportunities from the court during the past year, however, it seems that he has not learned from what he did.

Given his criminal history, Pengelly told the court that the defendant is not a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.

In delivering his decision, Patea told Meredith that as he was speaking and begging for a second chance, he and his fellow Judges were looking at his criminal record in the court system. He told Meredith that the court is confused on what other opportunity he’s asking for, since he had been given multiple chances in the previous year.

Patea stated that Meredith’s criminal record started when he was convicted for a DUI in District Court, where he was placed on probation for 12 months. A few years later, he was convicted on a second DUI, where he was placed on probation for 24 months.

While he was on probation, he was convicted for other misdemeanor crimes involving alcohol in District Court. He was also given a chance when the court suspended his imprisonment term and placed him on probation for another 24 months.

Before his probation from his second DUI was completed, Meredith was arrested on his first felony charge — driving while his license was suspended. He was given another chance by the court, when he was placed on probation for 5 years.

“Now, this is your second felony driving conviction, along with a Deposition Hearing for failure to comply with conditions of your probation, and it’s clear to the court that you have not learned from all the opportunities the court gave you,” Patea told the defendant.

“You stated that you’re truly remorseful and want to go back home, but the court believes that your actions prove that you’re not truly remorseful. You are remorseful because you were arrested and held in custody.”

“The court has given you so many chances but you failed to use them. You now beg for another chance. The court feels that the only place for you is in prison for a long period of time, so that you can learn a good lesson from there,” Patea concluded.

For his sentence, Meredith was ordered to serve a period of imprisonment of 5 years, after being convicted of felony driving.

For his Deposition Hearing for failure to comply with conditions of his 5 years probation, the court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve 5 years.

Associate Judges Suapaia Pereira and Satele Lili’o Satele accompanied Patea in handling down Meredith’s sentence.