Just out of jail, young man says he stole cell phone to call his girlfriend
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man who is on probation for stealing and burglary is now back in court on another stealing charge. Police arrested Alex Meki four months after he was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) after serving a 28-month detention.
Meki made his initial appearance in District Court two weeks ago, where he asked the court for a preliminary examination (PX).
The government has filed two criminal cases against Meki.
In the first case, the defendant is charged with stealing, a class felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both.
In the second case, the defendant is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment from 5-10 years, a $20,000 or both.
Bail is set at $10,000.
If he posts bond, the defendant is ordered to remain law abiding and other usual restrictions, including staying away from the victim, the owner of an Asian store in the Tafuna area.
On Oct. 14th, 2020, the owner of an Asian store in the Tafuna area walked into the Tafuna Substation (TPS) to report a crime, after an unknown male allegedly stole a phone from her store.
The store owner told investigators that a male individual walked inside their main office at the store and walked around for about five minutes before he made his way to where the display table is located. He walked around a few moments and it appeared he was trying to see if there was anybody looking at him.
He then reached out to an iPhone located on the display table and placed it inside his bag and quickly walked out of the store and disappeared.
According to the store owner, the alleged incident was recorded on video camera, and the recording was seen by another employee two days after the alleged incident and he immediately contacted police.
Investigators were able to get a copy of the video footage to view it, which confirmed the statement given by the store owner.
The person on the video footage was later identified by one of the police detectives as Alex Meki, the defendant in this matter. The police detectives told investigators they are familiar with Meki because he was involved in one of the burglary cases they investigated a few years ago where Meki and two juveniles were suspects.
After they obtained an arrest warrant, police apprehended Meki two months ago at his home and he was transported to the TPS for questioning where he was read his Miranda rights and he said he wanted to tell his side of the story.
Before Meki was transported to the TPS for questioning, he was patted down and during the body search police discovered a small black pouch in the left pocket of his pants. When asked about the black pouch, Meki looked nervous and said, “I’m going to jail again.”
The officer asked Meki what’s inside the black pouch but his response was, “Open and you will know it.”
The officer open the black pouch and discovered a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance, along with a small stamp-sized baggie containing green leafy substance. Test of all substances recovered yielded a positive result for both methamphetamine and positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active compound in the controlled substance marijuana.
Meki told investigators that he was just released from TCF on the first week of May after serving almost 3 years in prison for stealing, burglary and escape from confinement. Two weeks after his release, he went to the Asian store to meet his girlfriend, who told him to wait for her inside the store, however, everything went wrong when he entered the store and allegedly stole the phone to call his girlfriend because it had been over two hours he had been waiting for her.
According to Meki, he gave the phone to another man to use and the man gave him $100 for the phone. Investigators were able to retrieve the phone from the man and give it back to owner of the store.
PRELIMINARY HEARING (PX)
During the PX, the government called their only witness to the stand, who was the lead investigator in this case.
Working as a police officer for over two years now, the witness told the court that she received her training during the 26th Police Academy and on the job training.
The witness told the court that it was revealed during her investigation that Meki went inside the store with the intention of stealing a phone because he was just released from prison and he wanted a cell phone to contact his friends.
in cross examination, the defense attorney asked the government’s witness the reason why the case against his client was reported to police two days after the alleged incident. The witness told the court that the store owner only knew about the incident when they viewed their security camera footage.
When asked how she was so sure that his client was the person of interest in this case, the witness said that when the team of investigators viewed the video footage from the store, a police detective who knows the suspect from his previous cases easily identified him from the video footage.
After hearing evidence of the case, the court found probable cause to bind Meki’s case to the High Court for arraignment.
Meki entered a not guilty plea to the single charge against him when he appeared in High Court last week for his arraignment. His next hearing is set for next month.
According to court files, Meki had previously been charged in 3 separate cases. One case against him was stealing. In another case, Meki was slapped with several charges including 4 counts of stealing; 3 counts of 1st degree burglary; one count of 2nd degree burglary; one count of escape from confinement, and the misdemeanor charge of alluding police officers.
In a third case, Meki was charged with one count of escape from confinement.
Meki was 23 years old when he appeared before the court for sentencing in Oct. 2018. According to Probation, Meki dropped out of school when he was 11 years old.
He had just served 28 months for the convictions when he allegedly stole the cell phone.