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Court sentences man to 12-months probation for assault

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of assaulting another man during a volleyball game in Tafuna last year appeared in District Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing, before Judge Elvis P. Patea.

Falaniko Apelu, who was released on his own recognizance, was initially charged with third-degree assault, public peace disturbance, and trespassing — all misdemeanors. But under a plea agreement with the government, Apelu pled guilty to third-degree assault, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one-year imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

When asked to explain what happened, Apelu said that on Aug. 23, 2018 he punched the victim in the face multiple times and then kicked the victim’s back while he was on the ground.

Apelu said he did what he did because he was really angry at what the victim did to his cousin.

Prosecutor Jason Mitchell, in stating the facts of the case, said that on Aug. 23, Apelu assaulted the victim during a volleyball game in front of the victim’s home in Tafuna. Before the assault occurred, a verbal argument had erupted between Apelu and the victim. The victim apologized to Apelu for what he did; however, Apelu was still mad.

He confronted the victim again and then punched him in the face multiple times, causing the victim to fall, and kicking the victim’s back while he was on the ground.

When given the chance to speak, Apelu apologized for his actions and begged for a second chance. He also apologized to the victim, whom he referred to as a ‘brother’. Apelu said he has already apologized to the victim and his family, and they accepted.

Patea sentenced Apelu to 12 months probation, subject to several conditions. Apelu is to keep the peace at his residence at all times, remain alcohol and drug free, and he is to attend and complete an anger management and alcohol-counseling program.

The 30-day jail term is deferred as long as he complies with conditions of probation, and he is to pay a $100 fine within 30 days.