Assault victim disappointed her assailants were not given jail time
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A woman, who is the victim of an assault that occurred in November last year has questioned the decision of the court regarding the two defendants who assaulted her inside a store in Tafuna.
The two defendants, Taimane Brown, 48, and her daughter, Mary Maanaima, 18 were sentenced by District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea to probation on Mar. 25, 2020.
Brown pled guilty to the charge of disturbing the public peace (PPD), a class C misdemeanor, while her daughter Maanaima pled guilty to 3rd degree assault, a class A misdemeanor.
In an interview with Samoa News this week, Fi’a Alo stated that she was very disappointed with the court’s decision for the two women who assaulted her last year, which is causing her to suffer permanent pain in her left hip.
“I believe that both defendants deserve a jail sentence because they laid their hands on me which is against the law. I was injured during the assault and it seems like my case was not properly handled by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) nor the Attorney General’s office,” Alo said.
As a US citizen, a daughter of American Samoa who is serving the Government as a teacher, Alo believes that the government should have contacted her regarding the outcome of the case.
“I am the victim but I was never informed regarding the whole process from the beginning until the case came to an end before the Judge last month.”
According to Alo, she came to court to listen to the sentencing of the two defendants, however, a court marshal did not allow her inside the court room, due to the prohibition of large gatherings due to COVID-19.
She believes that the investigating police officer did not investigate her case well. The officer never interviewed any of the witnesses who were present during the incident, nor did he obtain a copy of the video clip from the store regarding the incident, she said.
“The investigating officer only interviewed myself and the two defendants,” Alo said.
She further stated that she did not understand why the court dismissed the assault charge against the mother.
She said she wanted to appeal the court’s decision because she was never informed by the government’s attorney regarding the whole process of the case. She still feels pain in her left hip and her nephew who was with her during the incident was traumatized because of what happened to her that day.
Alo said she confronted the government’s attorney who handle her case in District Court, and asked her about the reason why the assault charge against one defendant was dismissed. She also wanted to know the reason why the court did not order a period of detention since she sustained injuries during the assault.
The government’s attorney told her that the reason why the assault charge was dropped against the one defendant and also why neither defendant was ordered to serve jail time was because, “they did not use any weapons during the assault.”
“To me, an assault to somebody is an assault regardless of weapon or no weapon. The fact is, I’m suffered a minor injury and I’m starting my physical therapy next month for my left hip.”
She thanked all of her family, friends, co-worker and especial members of the public for their support throughout the whole ordeal.
“To all other victim’s of many crimes out there, don’t be afraid to come forward and let your voice to be heard. Keep up the faith and remember that God will never forsake us.”
THE AFFIDAVIT ABOUT THE CASE
The government claims that on Nov. 15, 2019 around 10:50, the victim, Alo contacted the Tafuna Substation reporting that she had been assaulted by two females inside the Manu’a Store in Tafuna.
Police officers responded to the call and met up with the victim who was at the scene. The victim showed officers injuries she sustained from the assault. She told police that Brown walked into the Manu’a store and grabbed onto her hands and scratched her fingers while she was walking with her nephew inside the store. The victim further stated to police that when the incident was over, Brown’s daughter, Maanaima walked towards her and grabbed her by her neck using her bare hands and tried to strangle her to the ground.
According to the affidavit, the incident started with a verbal argument between the victim and Brown outside of the store. The victim walked inside the store with her nephew, and a customer told her (Alo) to call police for assistance, but it was that time when Brown walked towards the victim and started the fight. The victim, who was standing, put her hands in front of her face to defend herself. Brown angrily scratched her hands and on her right arm and upper lip.
Then when Brown’s daughter, Maanaima came up to the victim, she grabbed the victim by the neck and pulled her to the ground. One of the store managers came to up to help and tried to break up the assault. The victim suffered a scratch and redness on her hands, her right arm and upper lip.
The victim told police that the store cashier and several customers witnessed the incident.
Police interviewed the two defendants in this case, Brown and her daughter, Maanaima.
Maanaima told police that the incident started when her mother added Alo (victim) to her Facebook but Alo replied and allegedly said some bad words to her mother. Maanaima and her other sister commented on Alo’s status on Facebook and told her that she doesn’t have to accept their mother’s friend request, all she had to do was cancel it.
Maanaima also told police that Alo allegedly keep calling her Dad’s phone but her Dad blocked her number, and that was when Alo called their house phone and yelled profanities at her mother.
On the day of the incident, Maanaima told police that she had just finished an interview at Manu’a store and came outside and went to their vehicle. That is when her mother (Brown) told her that Alo was looking at her. That’s when Maanaima jumped out of their vehicle and walked towards Alo and asked her about what she did to her mother.
Maanaima told police she was mad at Alo but didn’t know that her mother was walking towards Alo and that she wanted to fight her. She further stated to police that she was the one who broke up the fight between Alo and her mother. She then choked Alo and pushed her to the ground.
In Brown’s written statement to police, she stated that her husband was “one of Alo’s ex-boyfriends, and she stated that she had a previous incident with Alo when Alo damaged her vehicle’s windshield. Brown also stated to police that Alo kept calling her husband’s cell phone and tried to ruin her relationship with her husband.
Brown stated that on the day of the incident, she and her daughter were at the Manu’a store in Tafuna. While they were entering inside their vehicle, Alo called out to her daughter, (Mary Maanaima).
Brown said her daughter walked towards Alo when Alo kept calling her a slut. She said she was mad and attempted to fight with Alo. People who were inside the store came out and broke up the fight between Alo and her daughter.
THE COURT’S JUDGEMENT
Mrs. Brown and her daughter Maanaima appeared before Judge Patea on Mar. 25, 2020 for sentencing.
Each defendant was initially charged with 3rd degree assault and public peace disturbance (PPD). Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Brown pled guilty to PPD, a class B misdemeanor, punishable by term of imprisonment of up to 6 months, a fine of up to $5,000, or both; while her daughter Maanaima pled guilty to 3rd degree assault, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment term of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Brown admits that her actions on the day of the incident disturbed the public peace, while Maanaima admits that she assaulted the victim by choking her neck and pulling her to the ground.
Maanaima was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Execution of sentence was suspended and Maanaima was placed on probation for 12 months subject to several conditions.
She shall serve a period of detention of 45 days at the TCF, however, the court deferred all periods of detention as long as the defendant abides with conditions of her probation. Maanaima was also ordered to pay a fine of $100 within the first 30 days of her probation.
Brown was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. Execution of the sentence was suspended and Brown was placed on probation for 6 months subject to several conditions. She was ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 days at the TCF, however, the court deferred all periods of detention if Brown abides with conditions of her probation.
Brown was ordered to pay a fine of $100 within the first 30 days of her probation.
Both defendants were ordered to attend and complete anger management, visit the Probation Office once a month and have no contact with the victim in this case.