Jury trial set for man accused of giving marijuana to juveniles to sell
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The man who is accused of giving juveniles marijuana to sell for him has asked the Court to set his case for jury trial. The trial is now set for 2023.
Talitiga Malo appeared in court last week for his pretrial conference. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General, Kristine Soule.
When Malo’s case was called, his attorney informed the court that they had received all the discovery from the government along with an offer for a plea agreement, however, after speaking with his client regarding the facts of the case, his client has maintained his not guilty plea.
“For these reasons, we’re asked the court to set this case for a jury trial,” Anderson told the court.
The court informed the defense attorney that there is also the option of a bench trial for his client, due to the fact that all jury trials are still on hold due to the COVID-19 restrictions from the American Samoa Government (ASG).
Mariota is still in custody awaiting his jury trial next year unable to post a surety bond of $10,000.
Two juveniles caught smoking marijuana at the back of a store led to the arrest of Malo after juveniles told investigators he gave them marijuana to sell.
He’s being charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; marijuana with the intent to distribute, a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten years, or a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $20,000, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to one year, and a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit received a call from the owner of a store in Tafuna alleging that two male juveniles were caught by the store employee smoking marijuana at the back of his store. Responding to the call, they met with the store owner and with the two male juveniles who allegedly smoked marijuana at the back of the store.
When questioned by detectives, one of the juvenile told police that the marijuana they were smoking came from a guy named “King”.
King was later identified as Talitiga Malo, who is the defendant in this matter. The two juveniles further told police that Malo always gives him free marijuana in exchange for selling his marijuana for $5 a joint. He also told police that he sells marijuana joints from another man by the name of “Deuce”.
When questioned by investigators, Talitiga allegedly admitted that he gave marijuana joints to two juveniles to sell.