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Court Report


Tautiaga Iuli aka Pelenato Pua aka ‘Misi’ aka ‘Barry’, one of the five rugby players charged in connection with the assault of a referee from Samoa during a rugby match last year, was sentenced yesterday in the High Court.

Sentencing for Tautiaga was handed down by Chief Justice Michael Kruse. Tautiaga was initially charged with first degree assault but pled guilty to second degree assault, reduced from the first degree charge following a plea deal with the government.  

Tautiaga apologized to the court, his family, the village of Leone and the victim — Ponifasio Vasa — for his actions. The defendant pleaded with the court for a chance to return home.

Tautiaga’s lawyer Marshall Ashley told the court his client had already served ten months in jail and asked the court for a probated sentence.

Ashley added that the defendant has asked to be released so he can return home to Samoa, given that his immigration status is illegal.

Kruse sentenced the defendant to five years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on five years’ probation under certain terms and conditions. Tautiaga was ordered to serve 20 months in jail, and credited for time already served which is eleven months.

The Chief Justice noted that the remainder of the detention will be stayed and the defendant will leave the territory and remain outside for the period of his five years probation.

Kruse ordered the defendant to depart the territory upon his sponsor providing the proper documents for transportation.

The prison warden was ordered to escort the defendant to the wharf or the airport.  The defendant was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 and restitution of $1,000. Kruse noted under immigration law, if the defendant cannot pay the fine and restitution, his legal sponsor will pay for it.

Kruse told the defendant that while in the territory he must remain a law abiding citizen and warned him that if he tries to enter the territory before his probation term is complete, he’ll be sent to the Tafuna Correctional Facility.

Co-defendants in this matter, Pelenato Puautolu, Fuata’i Tago and Pene Wells, have already pled guilty to second degree assault.

According to the government’s case, it was during a rugby game that the defendants assaulted referee Ponifasio Vasa over a call he made on the field. Vasa was hospitalized for about a week with injuries he sustained in the assault.


 Chief Justice Michael Kruse sentenced Lomitusi Uiagalelei to five consecutive weekends in jail, following a plea agreement with the government in this matter. Uiagalelei, accused of hitting another man with a shovel, was initially charged with second degree assault and public peace disturbance.

In a plea deal with the government, the defendant pled guilty to public peace disturbance and third degree assault, amended from the felony assault.

The plea agreement that was read in open court says the defendant has agreed to pay restitution of $490, a fine of $300, and undergo anger management counseling. He must not reside in Auasi and he cannot contact the victim directly or indirectly according to the plea deal.

After the Chief Justice accepted the plea agreement, both parties proceeded with sentencing. Uiagalelei apologized to the court and his family for his actions and asked the court for a chance to return home so he can care for his wife and children, and at the same time, tend to his village and church obligations.

Uiagalelei’s lawyer Marcellus Tala Uiagalelei asked the court for a probated sentence for his client, given that he is a first time offender and is remorseful of his actions.

Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde reminded the court of the defendant’s action, in which he struck the victim causing a laceration which required eight stitches, and the victim had been hospitalized for three days before he was discharged.

Kruse sentenced the defendant to two years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and he was placed on two years’ probation under certain terms and conditions.

The defendant was ordered to undergo 90 days in jail, however he also moved to stay the 90 day jail term, given the defendant’s good behavior.

Kruse did order the defendant to be jailed for five weekends, saying he must turn himself in at 6pm on Fridays, and he will be released 6pm Sundays.

As another condition, the defendant must undergo anger management counseling, pay restitution of $490 and a fine of $500. Kruse noted the defendant said he was trying to shoo away the complaining witness’ dogs who were barking during evening prayer by using a shovel.


Laga Tui, charged with striking another man with a machete, entered into a plea agreement with the government yesterday in High Court. Tui, in his 20’s, is facing first-degree assault and public peace disturbance.

However in the plea deal, Tui entered his guilty plea to first degree assault while the government moved to dismiss the PPD count. The plea agreement that was read in court stated that the defendant admits that on December 3, 2011 he struck the victim on the head, shoulder and arm with a machete causing the victim serious injuries to his body.

Kruse told the defendant that if his guilty plea is accepted by the court and if the court renders sentencing which was not recommended by the lawyers, he cannot come back and withdraw his guilty plea.

The defendant noted that he understood. Kruse told the defendant the first degree assault which he was pleading guilty to is punishable from 10 to 30 years imprisonment, and the defendant replied he understood. Kruse accepted the plea agreement between the defendant and the government and scheduled sentencing for July 13, 2012.

The incident is alleged to have occurred December 3, last year in Mapusaga Fou.

According to the government’s case the defendant, who was intoxicated, was upset that the complaining witness told him to get off his property.

Court filings state that the defendant left the scene and returned with a machete, which he then used to strike the complaining witness on his head, arm and shoulder. The victim underwent emergency surgery as a result of the attack. 


 A man accused of striking a female with a beer bottle over a rosary was arraigned in High Court yesterday morning. Mareko Malaefono Lemafa, who is in custody on bail of $5,000 has denied the charges of second degree assault and public peace disturbance against him.

On Thursday the defendant was scheduled to have his preliminary examination hearing, however the defendant waived his rights to that hearing in the District Court. Presiding over the matter was Chief Justice Michael Kruse.

The assault charge, a class D felony, carries a jail term of up to five years, and a fine of up to $5,000, or both, while the PPD charge is a misdemeanor and is punishable up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

According to the government’s case police received a call from a woman saying the defendant threw a beer bottle which landed on her face.

Court filings say the victim suffered a cracked tooth, a swollen lip, and a bruised chin. The victim told police she had pleaded with the defendant to return her rosary, however the defendant got angry and threw the beer bottle at her. The victim was taken to the hospital by Emergency Medical Services where she was treated for her injuries.

The defendant,who’s represented by Assistant Public Defender Michael White, is scheduled to have his pretrial conference on July 30, 2012. Prosecuting this matter is Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.