District Court Judge Fiti Sunia has ordered police officer Claude Mamea to pay $60, which is the amount of a traffic ticket, for a violator ticketed by the female officer, who then failed to file it with the District Court.
The total fine covers $50 for the traffic ticket and $10 for the law enforcement fee, imposed on any traffic violation — in accordance with local law.
The officer was called before the court late last week, after Sunia dismissed the traffic violation citation against a driver, because Mamea didn’t file the traffic violator ticket with the District Court.
Sunia asked Mamea for an explanation as to why the information was not filed with the court, and the police officer apologized. Sunia told the officer that due to her failure to file the traffic ticket, the driver who was cited, would not pay the total $60 fine and he then ordered the officer to pay the full amount.
The motorist was cited for “unsafe passing” on the road.
A young man in his early 20s, facing various criminal charges in two separate cases, has reached a plea agreement with the government, but the High Court has continued the plea hearing to Mar. 10 while judges seek additional information pertaining to certain provisions of the agreement.
In the first case, Melvin Eteuati, who remains in custody, is charged with felony stealing and second-degree burglary — also a felony. For the second case, he is charged with felony stealing, second degree burglary and misdemeanor third degree property damage.
Eteuati appeared Monday for his change of plea hearing where the plea agreement was read in court; and under the plea agreement, the defendant pled guilty to second degree burglary, from the first case, in which he admitted that on Sept. 18 last year, he broke into a home and stole the homeowner’s belongings, including a laptop, cell phone, iPad, passport and a bag which contained $500.
According to court information, the defendant spent the $500, while the property he stole was hidden in a location, where police were able to retrieve the items after the defendant was questioned.
If the court accepts the plea agreement, the government will request that all the other remaining charges be dismissed. Additionally, the government will not file more charges relating to the defendant’s third case, in which he escaped from officers in January while in District Court for a hearing.
Court information states that after Eteuati’s hearing in District Court, the defendant was remanded back into custody of the Territorial Correctional Facility, which has officers in court that escort inmates to their hearings.
However, Eteuati made it to the side of the building jumped onto the stairs heading to the second floor and hid inside for a long time, without anyone knowing.
When Eteuati learned that the TCF officers, who brought him to the court proceedings, had left the building, he then took off his TCF orange jump suit (which is required when inmates are taken to court, while they wear their regular clothes underneath the jumpsuit), and walked across the street to a bus stop at the Fagatogo Market place where he took a bus to his family in Amouli village — on the Eastern side of Tutuila.
During this time, TCF officers had alerted police of the missing inmate and a search was underway with the assistance of the DPS Criminal Investigation Division. However, police received a tip the next day that Eteuati was at his home in Amouli, where police found him and he was taken back into custody — to the Territorial Correctional Facility.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse is expected to make a decision this Friday on whether or not to revoke bail for Danny Mika and put the defendant behind bars while his criminal case proceeds in High Court.
The reason for court’s proposed action was the result of Mika being late twice for two separate court hearings. For example, in January this year, Mika didn’t show up when his case was called prompting the court to order an arrest warrant. However, as the court was preparing to adjourn, Public Defender, Douglas Fiaui quickly informed the court that his client had arrived and that didn’t sit well with the court that frowns on attorneys, defendants and witnesses who are late to court proceedings.
When questioned by Kruse why he was late, Mika responded that he had a flat tire on the way to court. The CJ accepted that excuse from the defendant, who was then ordered not to be late and be on time for the next hearing, which was held Monday this week.
However, Mika was again late and Kruse sought an explanation, when the defendant finally appeared. Mika’s excuse this time — the traffic was really congested, getting into town.
Kruse told Mika that the only move by the court at this point is to revoke bail and ordered that the defendant be held in custody; however, the court is concerned with the $5,000 bail money put up by a person named “Duke Vele”, who is being requested by the court to appear at Friday’s hearing, with Mika told not to be late — again.
The court wants “Duke Vele” to know that if bail is revoked not only is Mika to be held in custody, while his case proceeds in court, but the $5,000 will not be refunded. Mika is charged for one count of illegal possession of a controlled substance - crystal meth or ‘ice’.
(Original Samoan stories published in yesterday’s Lali section of Samoa News.)