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Man fined for assaulting his wife’s ‘visitor’

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year-old farmer convicted of striking the back and shoulder of an intruder with a metal pipe after the intruder visited the defendant’s wife at their home was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) this week, after the court sentenced him to time already served while awaiting the outcome of his case, which was 8 months.

Upuese Malaki appeared in High Court this week for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe.

Malaki was initially charged with 2nd degree assault, a class D felony, punishable by term of imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

However, under a plea agreement with the government, Malaki agreed to plead guilty to the amended charged of 3rd degree assault, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

When given the chance to address the court, Malaki apologized for his actions and asked for a second chance to continue to remain in American Samoa to care for his family. He told the court that he’s 42 years old and has lived here most of his life.

Malaki said that there was no intention to cause severe injuries to the intruder, however, his anger reached the point that caused him to act immediately. He told the court that he made a mistake and wanted to start a new chapter in his life.

His defense attorney asked the court to place his client on probation without any period of incarceration.

McNeill further stated to the court that the intruder went to his client’s house on the night of the incident for the purpose of visiting his client’s wife. His client then used a piece of metal pipe to assault the intruder.

After the incident, McNeill said that his client’s wife departed the territory and went to Samoa, while he was in custody awaiting the outcome of his case.

Prosecutor Lowe echoed McNeill’s submission for a probated sentence without period of incarceration.

Lowe acknowledge the presence of the victim, Willie Fegauia’i in court. Lowe told the court that the victim has forgiven the defendant for his actions, knowing that he (victim) was at fault in this case. Lowe further stated to the court that the matter between the defendant and the victim has been reconciled within the two families.

The court then sentenced Malaki to 12 months imprisonment. Execution of detention is suspended and the defendant is placed on probation for 12 months subject to several conditions, including having no contact with Fegauia’i.

The court also ordered Malaki to continue working on his farm to pay his $500 fine.