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Sponsor of a man who assaulted his girlfriend will pay for the crime

[SN file photo]

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea has ordered the sponsor of a man from Samoa who was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend to come forward and fulfill his responsibility under ASG Immigration laws, by paying the defendant’s return airfare to Samoa and restitution of $1,800.00.

In delivering the court's decision in the case against Karisi Tiaali’i yesterday morning, Patea told the government attorney that under local immigration laws, the sponsor who requested that the defendant enter the territory has an obligation to fulfill.

According to a report, which was provided by the Immigration Office to the court, the defendant’s sponsor is a family member identified as Lemapu Lemapu.

Tiaali'i, 25, was initially charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault, felonious restraint, and felony stealing. But under a plea agreement Tiaalii pled guilty to second-degree assault and felonious restraint, both felonies, and the remaining charges were dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Tiaali'i admits that on Dec. 12, 2017 he struck the victim’s face on the vehicle dashboard multiple times and he pulled the victim’s hair to avoid her from exiting the vehicle.

When given the chance to address the court, Tiaali’i apologized for his actions and asked for a second chance so he can return home and care for his sick mother. He said he’s remorseful for what he did to his girlfriend and he can’t do anything to take back what has already happened.

“While in prison, I realized that jail is not a good place for me to be. I’m remorseful and I really miss my family and my children. My dad passed away and I did not do much to care for him, and that’s why I’m asking for another chance, so I can go home to care for my sick mother while she is still alive, and spend the rest of my life with my children,” a tearful Tiaali’i told the court.

He added that if given a second chance, he would do his best to correct his wrongs and be a good father, moving forward.

“I learned a lot from prison and now I know that breaking the law is not a good choice. I want to change my life and be a good member of society, but most importantly, I want to return to the normal life I used to have when I was a young boy, being obedient and loving,” he concluded.

Tiaali'i's attorney, deputy public defender Michael White did not add to his client’s statement. Prosecutor Christy Dunn asked the court to give the defendant a probated sentence to include a short period of detention.

Dunn said the victim’s medical bill is $1,800 and the government is requesting the court to order Tiaali'i to pay a part of the amount as restitution.

“We know the facts of this case are disturbing and the attack to the victim by 
Mr. Tiaali’i was intentional — the injuries were very severe,” Patea said.

“We have considered your background and we’ve noticed that this is your first appearance in front of us, despite your first PPD conviction in the District Court back in 2013. However, we also understand the need to protect society from violent people like you.”

Patea told Tiaali'i that he cannot take back his actions on the day of the incident, and the scars on the body of the victim will stay forever. It will also remind her how dangerous her perpetrator was, Patea continued.

For the charge of second-degree assault, the defendant was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. For the charge of felonious restraint, he was sentenced to 7 years in jail. The sentences will run concurrently.

However, the execution of the sentences are suspended and Tiaali'i is placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions that include incarceration for 20 months for second degree assault, and 28 months for felonious restraint — without any release whatsoever unless ordered by the court.

After serving 12 months, Tiaali’i is ordered to depart the territory and stay outside its borders for the remainder of his probation. He is not to attempt to enter the territory in any way.

He is to be released to the Probation Office who will be responsible for escorting him to the point of departure. While in jail, Tiaali'i is not to be given 'trustee status'.

He is also ordered to pay $1,800 restitution, which the court will order his sponsor to fork out, in addition to Tiaali'i's airfare ticket to Samoa.

The government attorney is ordered to forward a copy of the court's judgment to the Chief Immigration Officer, to ensure the defendant’s name is included in their 'look out' list.