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Another domestic abuse case lands in District Court

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 26-year-old man who was arrested by police last week and held at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) for one night for allegedly assaulting his wife, made his initial appearance in District Court last Friday morning where Judge Pro Temp, Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde ordered that he remain in custody until he posts a cash bond of $300.

The defendant, who is represented by Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson, is facing a single count of 3rd degree assault, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to one year, and a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

(To protect the identity of victims in domestic violence cases, Samoa News is withholding the names of the parties involved).

During court proceedings last Friday, Anderson asked that his client be released on his own recognizance, arguing that his client is a first time offender who is employed at the LBJ hospital in maintenance. He said his client is a hard working family man and he has secured another place to stay while his case is pending.

Assistant Attorney General Bianca Lherissen opposed the defense’s motion, saying the allegations against the defendant are serious and he must be kept in custody to ensure the victim's safety.

Tauiliili-Langkilde however said that based on the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident, the court feels the bail amount already set is reasonable; and if the defendant is able to post the cash bond, he is to remain a law abiding citizen and be present during all of his scheduled court appearances. He is not to leave or attempt to leave the territory, and is to stay in close contact with his attorney.

The defendant is also not to have direct or indirect with the victim along with his three young children, and if he encounters them in public, he is to walk away from them.

The defendant’s case is now transferred to the Family, Drug & Alcohol Court (FDA), and his next hearing will be next month.

According to court documents, around 11:45 a.m. on June 13, 2018, the alleged victim was brought into Central Police Station by a representative from the Department of Human Social Services because she was allegedly assaulted by her husband. The matter was then handled by a detective from the DPS Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

The government claimed that the woman seemed scared and hesitant to talk to police when she first brought in for interview. However during the interview, she agreed to talk.

She then stated to police that her husband came home intoxicated and they got into a verbal confrontation at their home. She stated that her husband cussed at her, said cruel things to her, threw things at her and punched the walls. He also grabbed the car keys and she told him to give her the keys because he was intoxicated.

The confrontation became physical when the defendant allegedly assaulted his wife by punching her in the face. The victim walked away but when she turned around, he punched her again. She then walked into the house to compose herself.

Around 12:40 p.m on the same day, police officers headed to the family’s home to locate the defendant. Police was able to find him at home, and was asked by police officers to accompany them to the police station. Police officers then explained to the husband the reason they needed to speak to him.

While on his way to the police station with police officers, the defendant called his wife and asked her why she went to the police. According to the government, the husband became agitated and questioned his wife’s actions and belittled her over the phone. He was then asked by police officers to hang up the phone.

That is when the defendant told police that his wife was the one to stop him after he got off work to drink and socialize with her friends. He also stated to police that his wife came home and he stayed to hang out some more with her friends. Afterwards he went home and his wife started an argument with him.

Police then asked the husband if he assaulted his wife, and his response was “yes”. The husband did not go into details of what happen.

After he was advised of his Miranda Rights, police officers again asked the husband if he assaulted his wife. The defendant stated, “Yes”.