Assault cases: One man sentenced, another pleads not guilty
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man who assaulted another man by punching him in the face and kicking him multiple times while he was on the ground was sentenced last week to 24 months behind bars.
Livisitone Valoaga was initially charged with third degree assault; third degree property damage; resisting arrest; and stealing — all class A misdemeanors. However, under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Valoaga pled guilty to third degree assault and third degree property damage, each punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both. The remaining charges were dismissed.
Valoaga admits that on July 22, 2020 he and his friend assaulted the victim, who had joined their drinking session at Valoaga’s home. A verbal argument erupted between the victim and one of Valoaga’s friends, causing Valoaga to instruct his friend to leave.
As Valoaga’s friend was leaving the area, the victim yelled out to him and challenged him to a fistfight. That’s when Valoaga, who had tried hard to calm things down, punched the victim, causing the man to fall down.
While on the ground, Valoaga kicked the victim in the back and on his face before punching him again. When cops tried to place him under arrest, Valoaga refused to have his hands cuffed. He walked away from officers and also damaged the victim’s iPhone valued at over $100.
Valoaga apologized to the court and begged for a second chance, saying he is the only person working to support his 3 young children.
The court sentenced Valoaga to 24 months in jail, subject to several conditions, including paying a $120 fine, and attending and completing anger management counseling.
TOOMATA VAVEGA JR
A 30-year-old male accused of disturbing the peace at his village made his initial appearance in District Court last week, where he entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to the charges against him.
Toomata Vavega Jr, also known as “Too Vavega Jr” is charged with third degree assault, third degree property damage, resisting arrest. and public peace disturbance — all class A misdemeanors.
Defense attorney asked the court to release his client on his own recognizance, saying he is a first-time offender and the allegations against him are not serious. The prosecutor did not oppose and the court granted the motion.
Vavega Jr was released under certain conditions that include remaining alcohol and drug free. “You are not allowed to go back to the Asian store compound at any time. If you fail to comply with any of these conditions, you will be brought back to court, and the court will send you to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) and you will stay there until your case is resolved,” the court told the defendant.
The government claims that on Jan. 06, 2021, cops apprehended an individual later identified as Vavega Jr, for disturbing the peace in the parking lot of an Asian-owned store in Tafuna.
Officers working on the west side said they were in the store parking lot when they heard someone shouting profanity, both in Samoan and English. Cops approached the crowd and observed Vavega Jr not only yelling profanities, but also challenging people to a fight.
According to the 45-year-old male victim, he was shocked when a male who appeared highly intoxicated entered the store and punched him in the face. He said he exited the store but the man continued to follow him outside. The defendant then threw a beer can at him, which missed his head but hit and cracked his vehicle’s rear window.
During the booking process, police could smell a strong odor of alcohol on Vavega Jr’s breath and his eyes were bloodshot. Pretrial conference is Feb. 10.