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Govt re-files charges against man who was initially charged with attempted murder

Territorial Correctional Facility, TCF
Vaimoe in custody at the Territorial Correctional Facility

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Savelio Vaimoe, a.k.a. Vaimoe Seumau is in court again.

In late February, District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea dismissed without prejudice the government's case against Vaimoe, who was charged with second degree attempted murder and first degree assault for allegedly trying to slice his sponsor's throat over a disagreement involving a FEMA check.

Yesterday morning, Vaimoe was brought to court via an arrest warrant.

When the case was dismissed a little over a month ago, presiding Judge Patea had told the prosecutors to "file the right charge, if there is any."

And the government has responded.

The same case, the same facts, the same defendant — just different charges.

Vaimoe is now being charged with first degree burglary and second degree assault — both felonies.

Court filings note that Vaimoe became upset when his sponsor (and victim), identified as Matamatafua Semaia, had failed to share with him a portion of the $11,000 FEMA check that was issued for damages sustained to the home Vaimoe and his family had occupied during Tropical Storm Gita last year.

During the preliminary examination hearing on Feb. 27, 2019 - the same day the court dismissed the first case without prejudice — the court reflected on the government's case notes, which indicated 'slicing motions, not stabbing'.

 The defendant's statements echoed that. But the lack of physical marks on the victim was not enough to find probable cause for the charges. The victim only suffered minor scratches.

According to Judge Patea's statements at the time, there's no doubt that a crime was committed, but the facts do not support the charges of first degree assault and second degree attempted murder. He told prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell to "do your investigation" and "file the right charge, if there is any."

Yesterday, Judge Pro Tem Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde remanded Vaimoe to custody at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) on a 'no bail' status. His preliminary examination is set for next Wednesday, April 10th, at 1 p.m.


According to the government's case, Vaimoe had approached his sponsor 'several times' to inquire about the FEMA check and was given the run-around until he was told that his sponsor's niece had taken the check with her off island.

On the day of the alleged incident, the government alleges that Vaimoe walked from Asili to  Leone with a backpack containing a knife and a 2.5gallon bottle of pesticide.

Vaimoe caught a bus to Faleniu to the victim's residence.

He entered the structure, found Semaia sleeping, and then allegedly used the knife to make two "slicing motions" on the victim's neck.

Following the second slice, the victim awoke and that's when Vaimoe "fled the scene". He took a back road and was thinking of drinking the pesticide to end his life, but he came upon a church, which he entered and told the congregants who were there, that he had just killed a man and he needed to go to the police station.

Vaimoe is currently an overstayer, as Semaia had terminated his sponsorship of Vaimoe last year, something Vaimoe wasn't aware of, until he went to the Immigration Office to seek help regarding his immigration status.