Second bench warrant issued for meth defendant
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A second bench warrant for Konelio Tinetali was issued last week by the court after he failed to appear for a pretrial conference. Tinetali is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He was scheduled to appear in court last Wednesday for a pretrial conference. One of the conditions of his release on a $5,000 surety bond is to appear in court every time his case is called.
Last week, Tinetali was a no-show and prosecutor Jason Mitchell asked the court to issue a bench warrant for him, saying it wasn’t the first time Tinetali has failed to appear in court. Judge Elvis P. Patea asked Tinetali’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson where his client was.
“Did you contact him before today’s hearing?” Anderson responded, “I did not see him this morning. I tried to get hold of him last week but the number he gave me to contact him is not in service.”
Patea said, “The court has the authority to offer bond forfeiture and I’m sorry that a family will lose two vehicles because of the noncompliance of your client to the court’s order.”
According to the prosecutor, this was the defendant’s third time not showing up. He failed to appear Aug. 2, 2019; Oct. 3, 2019; and now Nov 2, 2019.
When Tinetali failed to appear on Aug. 2nd, Patea issued a bench warrant for his arrest, and he was to be remanded to custody without bail, his bond forfeited.
At around 1 p.m. that same day, Tinetali showed up in High Court, where he was served with the bench warrant and transferred to jail. When his case was called on Monday, Aug 5th, Tinetali was present in handcuffs.
His attorney that day, Public Defender Michael White, asked the court to quash the warrant and set aside the forfeiture of bond, saying his office failed to communicate with Tinetali about his hearing date, and it’s unfair for Tinetali to be punished for their mistake.
White said Assistant PD Rob McNeill appeared on his behalf during Tinetali’s last hearing in July, and that’s how the miscommunication came about. Patea had a lot of questions for the defendant. He wanted to know where Tinetali lives, what he does for a living, who posted his bond, and who the matai of his family is.
Tinetali explained that he’s a farmer, working on the plantation of a man named Iosefa Namulauulu and it was Namulauulu’s wife who put up the money for his bail.
The court accepted the defense request to quash the warrant for Tinetali, and reinstated his posted bond. Tinetali was ordered to sign in at the PD’s Office every Monday to make sure he is aware of all his court dates.