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Court Report

Translated by Samoa News staff


The High Court has continued to December this year the trial of four men accused of shooting at the police substation in Leone in October 2014. This is to await the complete police report in the case, after one of the defense attorneys sought a continuance of trial due to concerns over the police report.

During a court hearing late last week, local attorney Sharron Rancourt, who is representing Manu Lefatia, informed Associate Justice Lyle Richmond that there are statements, which are useful in her client’s case along with the co-defendants that the government is withholding and not releasing at all.

She says the police report on the shooting incident has writing on it, making it difficult to know the specifics in the report. Additionally, it appears some of the witnesses have been “whited-out” and statements by such witnesses could assist the defense.

Richmond ordered the government to release the complete police report to the defendant and continued the trial, which was set to get underway this week, to December this year, to await the report.

The other three charged in the shooting of the police substation in Leone, along with Lefatia, are Mosegi Solia, Tuliese Taliu and Sinapati Fu’ufa’anatu — and the trio is represented by Public Defender Douglas Fiaui and assistant public defender Karen Shelly.

The shooting of the substation came after police took into custody Lefatia’s sister, who owns Aute Bar in Malaeloa. All four defendants in the shooting remain in custody unable to post a $100,000 bond — for each person.


The High Court will hear this Friday, arguments from the attorney for Siaumau Siaumau Jr., to reduce his sentence, handed down in April this year that ultimately puts him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Siaumau faced several charges, including first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Police Lt. Det. Lusila Brown in front of the temporary High Court building in Fagatogo six years ago.  The charges included those stemming from injuries suffered by Sgt. Liu Fuifatu and Det. Bonnie Lemisio, as the defendant also shot at both officers, outside the temporary court building.

Under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors on Mar. 22 this year, the defendant pled guilty to one count of second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault. When sentenced in April this year, the defendant got “life in prison” for the second degree murder count and for the assault charges, the defendant was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for each count. Terms of imprisonment will run “consecutively”. Additionally, time served so far by the defendant will count toward his jail term.

However, the defendant has requested to reduce sentencing with oral argument this Friday before Associate Justice Lyle Richmond, who sentenced Siaumau in April. Local attorney Mark Ude is representing Siaumau during Friday’s hearing.


The Appellant Division of the High Court of American Samoa will sit next month to hear oral arguments of four cases as well as a motion to dismiss a case pertaining to a minor child.

In a Sept. 15th memo, the court announced the five cases to be heard by the Appellant Division sitting at 1:30p.m on Oct. 27th.

The cases on the appellant calendar are: ASG vs. David Letuli; Ernest Haleck vs. ASG; ASG vs. a minor child and two adults; James Barlow vs. ASG; and Longline Services Inc., vs. Workmen’s Compensation. Except for the minor child case in which the appeals will hear a motion to dismiss, the rest of the cases involve hearing oral arguments.

The statement also says the presiding Justice will announce the order in which the cases will be heard, and the time scheduled for oral arguments, during the session.

The only criminal case on the docket is that of Barlow, a former American Samoa Community College instructor, who was found guilty of 16 out of 19 criminal counts — the majority of these charges are sex related offenses against three juvenile boys.

Barlow was sentenced in January 2015 to 24 years imprisonment but the specifics in what the defendant is seeking before the Appellant Division is not clear yet.


Samoan stories were published in yesterday’s Lali section of Samoa News.