Man picked up after assault on a juvenile faces multiple charges
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with an outstanding arrest warrant for stealing and traffic fines is in custody after he was arrested outside of the courthouse last month.
When asked by investigators about his alleged involvement in a burglary case in Nuuuli last year, Sapena Unasa told police that he had no knowledge of a burglary case. He further stated to investigators that he’s not a criminal.
It was on June 12, 2020 when an off-duty police officer observed a man arguing with another man outside of a store in Fagatogo. One of the men involved in the argument is the defendant, who was later identified as Unasa.
According to the government’s case, the off-duty police officer witnessed the incident.
During the argument, Unasa walked over to the location where the other man was standing and spoke with him for a moment, before Usana punched the man in the face. Unasa also slapped the back of the head of a 14-year-old boy, who was later identified as the son of the man Unasa allegedly punched.
Unasa walked back to his vehicle and drove away, making his way to the back of the Fagatogo Market before his vehicle was pulled over by police and he was taken into custody for questioning.
Before Unasa was taken into custody, cops conducted a body search and during the search, officers discovered a brown envelope inside a back bag Unasa was carrying. Inside the brown envelope were two medium sized baggies. One baggie contained a small amount of green leafy substance while the other medium baggie contained white crystalline substance.
The man and the 14-year-old who are the victims in this case were also questioned by police.
According to the man’s statement, he was inside the store while his son was waiting inside their vehicle parked in front of the Asian store, next to Unasa’s vehicle. Unasa was also inside the store.
When the man exited the store, he saw his son playing with his ball in front of Unasa’s vehicle. After a moment, he saw the ball hit the passenger’s door of Unasa’s vehicle. The ball rolled under Unasa’s vehicle. As the victim’s son tried to retrieve the ball, Unasa yelled out to the boy to get away from his vehicle. The boy did not listen, and continued bending down trying to retrieve the ball.
The government alleges that it was at that time when Unasa walked over to his vehicle and pulled the boy away from the side of his vehicle by the collar of his shirt. Unasa also slapped the boy in the back of his head causing him to cry.
The boy’s father called out to Unasa about assaulting his son. Unasa walked over to the location where the boy’s father was standing and explained to him the reason for his action. A verbal argument erupted between the two men, which resulted in Unasa punching the boy’s father.
When questioned by police regarding the alleged incident, Unasa said that he thought the boy was trying to steal from his vehicle. When he grabbed the boy in an effort to pull him away from his vehicle, the boy yelled profanities at him. That is when he slapped the boy on the back of his head.
Unasa also admitted that he assaulted the boy’s father by punching him in the eye after he called out to him.
When asked about the illegal drugs found in his possession, Unasa told investigators that the drugs do not belong to him, but to his brother-in-law who owns the bag. He told investigators his brother-in-law borrowed his vehicle for two days and when he got his vehicle back, he found a bag on the back of the seat. He did not know that there were illegal drugs inside the bag until police pulled him over and searched the vehicle.
During the interview process, investigators were informed that there is an active warrant for Unasa pursuant to an old case from last year, where he is accused of burglarizing a home in Faga’alu.
THE BURGLARY CASE
The government claims that on June 14th, 2019, a couple contacted the Fagatogo Police Station regarding two men who allegedly broke into their home while they were at the Bingo.
Several police officers arrived at the scene and observed belongings from inside the house scattered outside on the ground.
In August of 2019, one month after the alleged burglary, a 17-year-old boy told the family who owned the house that was burglarized that he and another person by the name of Sapena Unasa committed the crime.
The juvenile described the incident to investigators in the presence of his mother — he had acted as a ‘lookout’ upon request of Unasa.
The juvenile told investigators that Unasa broke into the house, bringing out a laptop, an iPad and camera, all inside a black bag. Other belongings Unasa took from the home included clothes, shoes, and several electronic devices.
Unasa gave the juvenile the camera and told him to sell it and never say anything about the burglary. When asked about the camera, the juvenile told investigators that he sold it to a friend for $100.
When asked about the burglary, Unasa refused to make a statement. He told investigators that he needed to speak to his attorney about the case because most of the information the juvenile provided to police was not true.
Unasa made his initial appearance in court last week. The government charged Unasa in two separate cases. In the first case, Unasa is charged with one count of stealing and one count of second degree burglary and one count of stealing, both class C felonies, punishable by up to 7 years in jail, a $5,000 fine of pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of the crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both the fine and imprisonment for each count.
In the second case, Unasa is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, both unclassified felonies; one count of resisting arrest, a class D felony, and three misdemeanors charges including one count of endangering the welfare of a child; 3rd degree assault and public peace disturbance.
Bail is set at $15,000.
If he posts bond, the court ordered Unasa to pay his outstanding fines of $675, stay away from the victim’s house and not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.