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One man dead in Vatia — allegedly during fight at a party

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A drinking session during a party in Vatia last month ended up with the death of one man and another one is now in custody charged with manslaughter.

Members of the victim’s family contacted the Central Police Station (CPS) last month after they discovered the victim’s body lying in front of their doorstep, unresponsive. Several police officers along with EMS personnel responded to the call and were able to speak to several witnesses including the victim’s family and people who were part of the drinking session.

According to one witness who spoke to investigators regarding the incident, there was a drinking session for a special occasion at the house of one of the family members in the village.

The victim and the defendant,  were two of those who were at the party.

At some point, a verbal argument erupted between the victim and the defendant, which resulted in a fight.

According to the government’s case, it was unclear from witnesses’ statements how the incident happened, but according to one witness, as the victim and the defendant engaged in a fight, another man interfered and tried to stop the two men from fighting. It was suspected that it was at that time during the effort to stop the fight that someone pushed the victim down where he fell down and his head hit a rock very hard.

Other witnesses told investigators that it was Siofaga who allegedly pushed the victim down.

The victim was unconscious after his head hit the ground. People who were at the party took the victim and left him lying under ‘ea’ tree near the scene — thinking that he was sleeping.

A few hours after the incident, the victim woke up and was able to walk to his house, however, he only managed to reach the front part of the house before lying down.

Early the next day, members of the victim’s family came outside of the house and found the victim lying in front of their house unresponsive and they immediately contacted authorities to report the incident.

Siofaga made his initial appearance in District Court last week. He is represented by Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Siofaga is charged with one count of manslaughter, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday.

Bail is set at $20,000.