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Sentencing date set for man who hit another man on the head with a screwdriver

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of assaulting another man with a sharp tool has admitted to the allegations against him.

Lupe Sautia appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.

He was initially charged with first-degree assault, a class A felony, punishable by imprisonment of not less than 10 and not more than 30 years. But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Sautia pled guilty to an amended charge of second-degree assault.

With his guilty plea, Sautia admits that on the night of May 03, 2018 in Pavaiai, he assaulted Molesi Uele by striking his head with a screwdriver multiple times.

The victim sustained severe head injuries as a result.

When asked by the court why he did what he did, Sautia said Uele had assaulted his little brother during a drinking session two nights prior to the night of the incident. According to Sautia, he confronted the victim in a peaceful way and asked him why he assaulted his younger brother, but the victim responded by punching him in the facial area with a rock.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey told the court that according to a police investigation, the victim assaulted Sautia on the night of May 01, 2018 in front of a store in Pavaiai.

Sautia went home thereafter, and opted not to call police to file a complaint.

On the night of the incident, the victim and two friends approached Sautia, while he was fixing a car at a mechanic shop in Pavaiai, and asked him for his younger brother's whereabouts. The victim and his two male friends were all intoxicated at the time.

Sautia, who was holding a big screwdriver, told the victim and his friends to leave the premises and come back later because they were intoxicated. The victim responded by telling Sautia that he has no business sending him home because this is his village and it is he (Sautia) who doesn't belong in the village.

The victim then pushed Sautia on the shoulder and challenged him to a fistfight.

It was then that Sautia punched the victim in the face, causing him to fall down. Sautia then used the screwdriver to strike the victim’s head twice. The victim’s two male friends fled the scene when the victim fell to the ground.

Sautia, 35, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a $15,000 surety bond, is scheduled to appear July 12th for sentencing.