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Family feud ends in assault charge for man who violated his probation

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who attempted to pick a fight with his uncle and then assaulted his uncle’s son has been ordered by the District Court to serve 45 days at the TCF for violating conditions of his probation. He was also placed on probation for 24 months after he pled guilty to private peace disturbance and third degree assault.

Ualesi Tuala appeared in court this week for a pretrial conference, where his attorney revealed that both sides have reached an agreement and his client wishes to plead guilty to the charges against him.

Tuala was initially facing charges in two separate cases.

For the first case, he was charged with public peace disturbance (PPD) and private peace disturbance. In a separate case, Tuala was facing charges of third degree assault and public peace disturbance.

Tuala agreed to plead guilty to private peace disturbance in the first case, and third degree assault in the other.

For the charge of PPD, Tuala admits that on Oct. 19, 2019, while he was drunk, he engaged in a fistfight with his cousin, during which he punched him in the facial area multiple times, causing injuries to his face.

For the charge of third degree assault, the defendant admits that on Nov. 20, 2019 while he was also drunk, he disturbed the peace at his home by engaging in a verbal argument with his uncle and challenged him to a fight.

With his plea of guilt — in both cases — Tuala admits that he violated conditions of his 24-month probation by consuming alcohol and disturbing the peace.

(Tuala was placed on probation for 24 months last year following a third degree assault conviction. In December 2017, only a few months after he was put on probation, Tuala was in court again, charged with PPD, but he was released on his own recognizance, under the condition that he maintains the peace within his family. A month later, he was arrested again and this time, he was charged with third-degree assault).

When given the chance to address the court, Tuala, who has been held in custody without bail since his arrest on Nov. 20, apologized to the court for his actions and asked for another chance to return home.

He said being in prison is not good for him, because he misses his parents and his family. But he didn't apologize to the victims in the two cases.

His attorney asked the court to adopt the recommendation made by the government in their agreement, to give Tuala a probated sentence instead of revoking his probation.

Defense said Tuala admitted to his actions and he takes full responsibility for what happened. He also told the court that his client now realizes how bad it is for him not to comply with conditions of his probation.

The prosecutor asked the court to sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment because not only did he violate conditions of his probation, he also poses a threat to his own family.

“You are living a dangerous life sir, you need to change your behavior before it’s too late. Your probation is revoked and you’re ordered to serve 45 days at the TCF in Tafuna,” the court told Tuala.

For the charge of PPD, Tuala was ordered to serve 15 days in jail, and 120 days for third degree assault.

But the court suspended the execution of the prison sentences and placed Tuala on probation for the period of 24 months under the following conditions:

He has to keep the peace in his family at all times; he must stay alcohol and drug free; he has to attend and complete anger management and alcohol counseling; and he has to pay a fine of $100.

“If you’re back in court again, you will be ordered to serve your suspended imprisonment terms,” the court told Tuala. “Do something good in life and don’t appear before the court again.”