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Man convicted of assaulting niece with shovel must depart territory

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted of assaulting his niece with a shovel was ordered by the court to depart the territory and remain outside of its border as a condition of his 5 years probation.

Voi Sautia, who has been in custody since his arrest in January of last year unable to post a $5,000 surety bond appeared in High Court last Friday for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General, Laura Garvey.

Sautia, an overstayer, was originally charged with 2nd degree assault, the charge he pled guilty to, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

When given the chance to address the court, Sautia apologized for his action and begged for a second chance to return home to his wife and children. He also told the court that he felt truly remorseful for what he did and the time he spent in prison taught him a lesson that jail is not a good place for him.

His defense attorney asked the court for a probated sentenced without any additional period of detention, which was also echoed by the prosecutor in this matter.

After a brief recess, Chief Justice Michael Kruse sentence Sautia to 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Execution of sentence is suspended and the defendant is placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.

He shall serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) without any release whatsoever. Upon release from detention, Sautia must immediately depart the territory and remain outside of its border for the remaining period of his probation.

The court stated that based on the information provided by Probation, the defendant was here on a tourist visa.

The court ordered that once the defendant finished serving his detention and all of his travel arrangements were completed, he will only be released to the Probation Office to be transported to his port of exit.

Furthermore, the court ordered that the certified copy of the Judgment and Sentence must serve upon the Chief Immigration Office or his assignee to make sure the defendant’s name is on their lookout list.


The charges stem from an incident that occurred New Year's Day, when Sautia and two of his buddies were drinking in front of a house. Sautia was arrested on the next day, January 2, 2019.

According to the criminal complaint, when it started raining, Sautia and his friends made their way into the home. At that point, his niece and her aunt — who was off island and owns the home — were talking to each other over the phone.

The aunt allegedly heard noises in the background during the conversation with her niece. The aunt is alleged to have told her niece to tell Sautia to get out of the house. When the niece delivered the message, Sautia became enraged.

He allegedly grabbed a flat tipped shovel and struck the victim on the back, while she was not looking. The girl turned around in time to put her elbow up to shield herself from the second strike, which caused injuries to her arm.

Sautia's third swing missed the victim who dashed out of the house and sought refuge at the neighbor's home, from where she contacted police for assistance.

When cops arrived at the scene, they heard the victim's side of the story and EMS personnel were contacted to render medical assistance. Sautia was nowhere to be found.

Police were able to apprehend him the next day.