Wife of man who assaulted her with an ‘ali’ asks court to let him come back home
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 33-year-old man convicted of assaulting his wife by striking her on the left side of her head and also her body while she was on the ground with a stick about 10-12 inches long and a Samoan wooden pillow (‘ali’), was released from custody this week after serving over 5 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
The defendant, who has been in custody since his arrest in March of this year, unable to post his $15,000, surety bond appeared in High Court before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia this week for sentencing.
He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.
The defendant was initially charged with one count of 2nd degree assault; one count of felonious restraint; both class D felonies; and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.
Under a plea agreement, accepted by the court last month, the defendant pled guilty to the charge of 2nd degree assault involving domestic violence, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
With his guilty plea, defendant admits that on Mar. 22, 2020, he assaulted his wife by punching her in the face, pulling her hair and dragging her into a room while his children were watching, While his wife was still lying on the floor, he grabbed a stick about 10-12 inches long and struck her head.
The defendant further admits that he also used a Samoan wooden pillow to strike his wife while she was still lying on the floor, causing injuries and pain to her body.
When given the chance to address the court, the defendant apologized to the court for his actions and begged for another chance to go back home to seek gainful employment and provide for his family. He also “promised that I will never come back before you in future.”
His defense attorney, McNeill asked the court to adopt the recommendation by the Probation Office and sentence his client to a period of probation. He further stated to the court that his client served 6 months at the TCF during his pretrial detention.
The Prosecutor echoed the defense’s submission and joined in the recommendation for a probated sentenced. The government attorney believed the defendant had learned his lesson of his actions and was truly remorseful.
Before the court deliver its decision, it recapped the circumstances of the case.
According to the court, the domestic violence case involving the defendant stemmed from an incident when his 7-year-old daughter called 911 and reported to police that her mother had been assaulted by her father, the defendant in this matter.
The young girl further told police on the phone that she witnessed the whole thing when her father assaulted her mother and that’s why she requested police assistance.
The court said that the assault started from an argument between the defendant and his wife, which resulted with the defendant assaulting his wife by striking her head with a stick and a Samoan wooden pillow.
The court said that according to the Pre Sentence Report (PRS), the defendant was a hard working man who provided for his wife and young children before the incident. He has no prior record before the court and he was a good father and husband to his children and wife for over 19 years of their marriage.
During their marriage, they built a strong family with young daughters. The defendant was gainfully employed for many years before he was arrested and charged in February of this year.
The court said that Probation interviewed the victim, and according to the victim’s statement, she wanted the defendant back with their family to rebuild the family. The victim further told Probation that she forgives the defendant and is ready to welcome him back to their home.
After considering everything regarding this case, the court said that the defendant is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.
The defendant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 5 years and fine of $2,000. Execution of imprisonment terms is suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.
The defendant was ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months at the TCF without any release. He will be credited for the 160 days he already served during his pretrial detention. The balance of detention was deferred by the court.
While he’s on probation, the defendant is ordered to attend and complete anger management counseling and seek and secure gainful employment to pay his $2,000 fine. The defendant has 20 months to pay his fine to the court.
While he court allowed the defendant to return to his wife and children he must make sure to keep the peace at his residence.
Finally, the court informed the defendant that he’s now convicted with a felony involving domestic violence. If he commits and is convicted with another felony involving domestic violence, the court will sentence him as a class C felony, which means, “you’re looking at 7 years behind bars.”
The court reminded the defendant that committing an assault involving domestic violence is a serious offense. The court then ordered the TCF guard to transport the defendant to TCF, process and release him.
Chief Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr and Associate Judge Tunupopo Alalafaga Tunupopo assisted Sunia on the bench.
Several police officers responded to the a call from a 7-year-old girl saying that her mother was assaulted by her father on the morning of Feb. 29th, 2020.
An officer arrived at the family’s home and the young girl who had informed authorities, walked officers inside the room where her mother was laying.
Officers went inside the room and found the victim, as her daughter had reported, lying on the bed shaking and crying, surround by her two minor children.
Police were unable to locate the suspect at the house when they arrived, however, he was apprehended Sunday, Mar. 22nd at a friend’s house. This was almost 4 weeks after the alleged incident.
According to the victim, the alleged incident happened from a discussion with her husband about who would do the shopping for groceries for Sunday toona’i.
Her husband told her that he would make sure he did a shopping for their family, while she tried to tell him why she should do the shopping.
The 7-year-old girl told officers that she was very scared looking at her mother being assaulted by her father (suspect). They were told by their father to stay inside their room but they peeked outside by opening the door and saw their father dragging their mother from the kitchen towards the living room. She stated that she saw her father assaulting her mother with the wooden pillow, which was when she ran and got the phone and called 911 for help.
Afterwards, she contacted her aunty to come immediately.