Jail time ordered for man convicted of assault with metal pipe
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 29-year-old man convicted of assaulting a man by striking his head with a metal pipe and punching him in the face multiple times is going to jail.
Kalifa Leu who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a $15,000 surety bond, has been ordered to serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of his 5-year probation sentence.
Ass’t Public Defender Ryan Anderson represented Leu, while Ass’t Attorney General Kristine Soule represented the government.
Leu appeared in Court last week for sentencing. He was initially charged with first-degree assault and false imprisonment, both felonies, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Leu pled guilty to the amended count of second-degree assault. The remaining charge was dismissed. With his guilty plea, Leu admits that on June 20, 2020 he knowingly caused physical injury to the victim by striking his head with e metal pipe. He also admits that he punched the victim’s face multiple times.
The victim told police that he was at his Tafeta home when Leu approached him regarding some family issues. During their conversation, a verbal argument escalated, and Leu attacked the victim. The victim told police he begged Leu to stop, but he (Leu) continued to assault him.
When given a chance to speak, Leu said he is ashamed of what he did to the victim, whom he considers a brother. He apologized to the court, the government, and the community, his wife and children, and especially his family and village for his actions.
He reflected on the many months he’s spent in jail and thanked the justice system for keeping him locked up, as it was a chance for him to rebuild his life and look at what is available to him, to make himself a better person.
“All I ask for is your leniency,” a tearful Leu said to the panel of judges. “I want to go back home and rebuild my life, and to seek employment to care for my wife and children.”
Anderson said Leu has accepted responsibility for what he did, and he’s served over 11 months at the TCF.
Letters of support for Leu from members of the community including Leu’s former employer and his church pastor were presented to the court. According to the letters, Leu is a hard working man and a friendly person within his family and village.
Anderson asked for probation, without any additional period of detention.
Prosecutor Soule did not agree, pointing out that Leu has a criminal history in High Court. She asked the court to sentence the defendant to what is suitable under the law.
Before rendering sentence, the court noted that the incident was sparked by a verbal disagreement that escalated to violence when the defendant took matters into his own hands.
The court reminded Leu that he was initially charged with first-degree assault, a class A felony which carries a life sentence; however, the government agreed to amend it to the lesser charge of second degree assault, a class D felony.
The court also reminded the defendant’s attorney that his client has a criminal history in High Court, dating back to 2011. According to the court, the defendant was placed on probation for 5 years in 2011 after he was convicted of second-degree assault. For that incident, the defendant struck a man on the head and body six times with a folding chair before he punched him in the facial area multiple times while the victim was lying on the ground.
The defendant was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Execution of sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.
He has to serve 20 months at the TCF and upon release, he is to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation. This condition, however, is stayed until further order of the court. The defendant will be credited for the 11 months he already served while awaiting the outcome of this matter.