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Man who cut himself after being turned down by waitress released from jail

District Court Judge Fiti Sunia
He is an illegal immigrant set to go before the Immigration Board next week

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — After spending 51 days in custody due to his illegal immigration status, the 59-year-old man who used a small knife to cut his hands and chest was released from custody, to await his pretrial conference hearing which is set for Nov. 23.

Before Puou Vili was released from custody on Wednesday this week, District Court Judge Fiti Sunia had a lot to say about his immigration status, including the fact that Vili has no authorization to continue to remain in American Samoa as his immigration status expired in 2016.

According to information provided by Immigration to the court, Vili, who was held in custody without bail when he was arrested Sept. 21st, holds an immigration status of PA. He was married to a US National; however, his spouse, who was his sponsor, passed away a few years ago, and his ID was not renewed when it expired in 2016. His children have also moved off-island, leaving Vili behind.

During his first pretrial conference last week, Vili's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells asked the court to release her client on his own recognizance, saying he has a new sponsor, who already filed a petition to the Immigration Board to renew his immigration ID.

The immigration officer who was in court during Vili’s hearing last week confirmed to the court that Vili’s hearing to renew his sponsor and also to transfer the sponsorship to the new sponsor has been scheduled for Nov. 21, 2018 which is next Wednesday.

Sunia told Wells that if the court releases her client on his own recognizance, the court is in violation of immigration law.

“This defendant is an illegal immigrant and he has no authorization to stay in the territory. The court understands the effort in trying to fix his immigration status, but again, he’s an illegal immigrant under immigration law,” Sunia told Wells. He then continued Vili’s case to Nov. 14, which was Wednesday this week.

On that day, Sunia wanted an update report on the defendant’s immigration status.

Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell told the court that Vili’s new sponsor is Malo Ilo, and the sponsor and his family have agreed to the defendant being released to their care, to await his immigration Board hearing.

Wells echoed the same thing. She added that Vili is prepared to change his plea to the charges against him.

“If the court releases this defendant today to you, Immigration, what is your next move?” Sunia asked the Immigration officer, who said he will make sure Vili will appear before the Immigration Board for his hearing, and that he complies with all immigration laws.

“What is the government’s position in this case?” Sunia asked Mitchell. The prosecutor said he too will make sure Vili has a valid immigration ID before his next court hearing.

Sunia told all parties that the court understands the law, and everyone must comply with the law. He granted the defense’s motion to release Vili on his own recognizance while awaiting his Immigration Board hearing to renew his immigration status on Nov. 21. He will be in court on Nov. 23, where he will enter a plea and his case will be finalized.


The government claims that around 10:30p.m on Friday, Sept. 21, police at the Fagatogo Central Station received a call asking for assistance regarding a male who used a small knife to cut his hands and chest.

Upon arrival at the scene, police officers witnessed a crowd of people at a nearby parking lot, opposite the nightclub where the alleged incident took place in Pago Pago. Police interviewed two eyewitnesses about what happened.

The first witness told investigators that the man — who was later identified as Vili — was making unreasonable noise in the night club. Apparently, he was trying to approach one of the ladies who works there, telling her that he wanted to be friends with her. The lady allegedly refused. A few moments later, the eyewitness saw Vili cutting his hands and his chest with a small knife.

The second eyewitness shared the same story to police. When questioned by police, Vili said the reason he cut his body was because he wanted the lady to be his girlfriend but she turned him down. He said he did what he did to show the lady that he wanted her to be his girlfriend.