Kruse wants confirmed answers on the whereabouts of drug defendant Kelemete
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chief Justice Michael Kruse has ordered the court marshal to find out whether statements by the Public Defender’s Office regarding the whereabouts of Sonny “Mu” Kelemete are true.
If not, Kruse said, the court will issue a bench warrant for Kelemete, for failure to appear in court for a hearing this week.
Kelemete, who is out on a $30,000 surety bond, was scheduled to appear in court yesterday morning for a Status Hearing; however, he was a no-show.
Prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General, Christy Dunn said the reason why the government scheduled a status hearing, is to make sure Kelemete appears in court next week for trial.
Dunn said she found out from the defense attorney that they had a hard time trying to contact Kelemete and the government just wants to make sure he is on island for trial.
She said an off-island witness is scheduled to arrive next week to testify during trial and the government wants to make sure the trial will proceed as scheduled.
Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill informed the court that the case is Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson’s, but his colleague was before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia for another matter.
According to McNeill, his office contacted Kelemete this week and based on information they received Kelemete is very ill and at the hospital preparing some paperwork with his doctor, as he is a new dialysis patient.
McNeill then asked the court to vacate Kelemete’s trial — scheduled for next week — and push it back to Aug. 5th.
“Is this more like a ‘fagogo’?” Kruse asked. McNeill said no.
Kruse wanted to know how many cars were used to bail Kelemete out from custody. According to McNeill, only one car was used.
When Kruse asked McNeill where his client was “right now”, McNeill said, “he’s with his doctor at the hospital, processing some paperwork to become a dialysis patient.”
Kruse did not rest. He asked who is Kelemete’s doctor, to which McNeill said he doesn’t know.
In the midst of the back-and-forth, the PD’s Office investigator was trying to get across to McNeill and that’s when Kruse called out to Eddie Fruean, to take the stand and be sworn in, and tell the court what information he wants to share with the defense attorney.
According to Fruean, he spoke to Kelemete on the telephone Tuesday morning, regarding his trial next week, and Kelemete told him that he’s at his doctor’s, processing some paperwork for his dialysis status.
Fruean said, “Kelemete has a serious health problem due to his diabetes, and that’s why he visited his doctor.”
“Who’s his doctor?” Kruse asked. Fruean said he didn’t know.
Kruse wanted to know who owns the car that was used to bail Kelemete out. Fruean said he didn’t know.
The CJ then asked the prosecutor whether their off-island witness has already made her booking to travel to American Samoa. Dunn said the witness is waiting on the outcome of this hearing.
Kruse then handed down two orders.
He first granted the defense’s motion to continue the trial that was scheduled for next week, to Aug. 5, 2019. Kruse said he doesn’t want to move forward with the trial next week, and have the federal government pay for the witness’s return ticket, and later find out that Kelemete is not present.
Secondly, Kruse ordered the court marshal to find out whether Kelemete is on island or not. The court wants to know whether he was at the hospital, based on the PD investigator’s statement.
Moreover, the court wants to know who Kelemete’s doctor is, and whether he is in the process of becoming a dialysis patient.
Kruse made it clear that if the court finds out that this is not the case, he will issue a bench warrant for Kelemete, for not complying with conditions of his bond release.
Kelemete is facing charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance — methamphetamine — with the intent to distribute.
Each count is punishable by not less than 5 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not less than $5,000 or both.
According to the government, Kelemete’s vehicle was pulled over by armed DPS detectives and K-9 Unit on Sept. 5, 2017 because of a loud muffler. During a body search, detectives allegedly found illegal drugs in Kelemete’s pant pocket — 9 small baggies with a white substance that later tested positive for meth.
Several empty baggies were also found in Kelemete’s pocket, including $90 cash.