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Court Report

Translated by Samoa News staff


The High Court has continued to Jan. 6, 2017 the status hearing on the government's case against Tao Liu, and hopefully at that time, both sides will have reached and signed a plea agreement.

During a hearing this week, Liu’s attorney, assistant public defender Michael White informed the court that negotiations are ongoing with the government for a plea agreement and that it is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.

Liu, who is being held behind bars on a no bail status on 11 criminal charges, which included drugs and an unlicensed firearm, escaped from jail in the early morning of Oct. 2, and was recaptured the next day.

However, the government has not yet filed charges against Liu for escaping confinement.


Chief Justice Michael Kruse has ordered that Soosemea Tinae’s case be assigned to Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea, due to conflict of interest, which includes that the Chief Justice’s wife is a relative of the accused.

Tinae, along with his attorney Matalupevao Leupolu, was scheduled to appear Tuesday before Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond on the defense motion to modify conditions of the defendant’s sentence, which was handed down last December.

Tinae was sentenced by Richmond to a straight 5 years imprisonment after he pled guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Kruse said the defense was late in filing the motion to modify the court’s sentence and that the time frame required under law had expired. Deputy attorney general Mitzie Jessop-Ta’ase, who represented the government, supported Kruse’s statement.

Kruse said such a motion should have been filed with the court within 10 days after sentence was imposed on the defendant.

Matalupevao explained that the defense only learned recently of new issues pertaining to the sentence and was the reason for the delay in filing the motion.

While Tinae’s case is now assigned to Patea, no date is scheduled yet of when a hearing will be held.


The High Court this week accepted and set for October next year the trial of inmate Joe Togitogi, who is accused of escaping from confinement this year.

Togitogi’s attorney, assistant public defender Michael White informed the court that his client strongly opposes the charge of escaping from confinement as filed by the government and the reason for seeking a trial in this case.

The defendant is currently serving a five-year prison term after being convicted in February this year of second-degree assault as a result of an incident, which occurred about two years ago.

However, the government alleges that Togitogi escaped from the Territorial Correctional Facility in April this year. Court documents say Togitogi was apprehended in Nu’uuli, where he had gotten into a fight with others in the village.


A 24-yar-old man from Aua, accused of assaulting a tax driver, has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of third degree assault and public peace disturbance when he made his initial appearance in District Court on Wednesday.

The charges against Tavita Lalovi stems from an incident Tuesday this week in front of a store in Leloaloa where the defendant allegedly punched a tax driver, whose taxi was parked in front of the store and witnesses called police after they failed to calm down the defendant, who police say was intoxicated, according to court information, which didn’t elaborate on the motive behind the assault.

While the defendant was released on his own recognizance, Lalovi was banned by the court from entering the premises of the Leloaloa stores and make any direct or indirect contact with the taxi driver — the victim.

Lalovi’s next court appearance is Dec. 28.