Update: Federal court okays Fletcher’s extradition to Tonga
A federal judge in Honolulu has ruled that an American man, wanted in Tonga for the murder of his wife, is “extraditable for each offense for which extradition was requested” and has certified the federal court’s findings to the U.S. Secretary of State, who makes the final decision on extradition.
Dean Jay Fletcher escaped from the custody of Tonga police in late September of last year and headed to American Samoa where he was arrested on Oct. 3 and charged with a misdemeanor count of entering the U.S. territory without proper authorization.
The District Court of American Samoa dismissed the local charge on November 22 and Fletcher was turned over to US Marshal Service agents in Pago Pago. He was then taken to Honolulu where he was held without bail while the US government determined whether or not to extradite him back to Tonga, which requested the extradition, through the U.S State Department. An extradition hearing was held Jan. 10.
In his 16-page decision issued last week Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield noted that the only purpose of the extradition hearing is for the magistrate judge to determine whether the crime is extraditable and whether there is probable cause to support the charge.
According to the federal judge, the government provided for the court an extradition package, which included sworn statements of three eyewitnesses who observed Fletcher assaulting his wife, Patricia Linne Kearney.
“These witnesses’ testimony established probable cause that Fletcher assaulted his wife, either intending to cause her death, or, intending to cause her bodily injury which he knew was likely to cause death,” Mansfield explained.
Mansfield’s decision provided specific details of statements by three witnesses, and the autopsy report – also received into evidence, which identified areas, noted by the witnesses as where Kearney suffered trauma, which caused her death.
“In sum, the evidence provided by Tonga and received into evidence establishes probable cause that Fletcher committed the offenses of murder with intent, murder by recklessness, manslaughter, and grievous bodily harm,” he said.
Court records shows that Mansfield’s certification of extradition was sent last Thursday to the U.S State Department with copies to the U.S. Justice Department.
Honolulu-based Assistant US Attorney Larry Butrick didn’t immediately reply to a request for comments on the outcome of the case and also a time frame for when the U.S Secretary of State will make a decision about Fletcher.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Melinda Yamaga, who represented Fletcher, also didn’t immediately respond to Samoa News’ request for comments.