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Road dispute case escalates with alleged machete attack

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The court has set bail at $3,000 for Mapu Tautua, who was taken into custody last week following an incident in Petesa in the Tafuna area where he is alleged to have gone to his neighbor’s home with a knife, and also challenged people in the neighborhood to a fight.

When police apprehended him, a hand rolled marijuana cigarette was discovered in his left pocket.

Tautua, who made his initial appearance in court last week, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, a felony, and a misdemeanor public peace disturbance (PPD).

The prosecutor told the court that the government may file additional charges, as the police investigation continues on allegations of possible trespassing and making verbal threats.

If Tautua is able to post bail, he is ordered not to bother his neighbor or attempt to set foot on his property. He is also not to make any direct or indirect contact with him.

Tautua will appear in court again next week for his preliminary examination (PX).

According to court information, the PPD charge stems from a disagreement between Tautua and his neighbor over the access road used by both families. Tautua contends that the neighbor should not be using the access road because he and his children have spent a lot of time cleaning it.

Not only have they planted trees and plants to make it look good but also maintain it by cleaning it everyday for over 20 years now.

But the neighbor claims that the access road is on their family property and therefore, Tautua and his family should not be using the road at all. Neither families own the land, according to the government’s case.

 The neighbor contacted police for assistance after Tautua allegedly came to his house and used a machete in a threatening manner, in addition to making verbal threats to his elderly uncle who questioned Tautua about his action.

It’s alleged that Tautua’s actions came after a drinking session he had with friends at his home. When interviewed by police, Tautua admitted that he had a machete and was making threatening statements to people in the neighborhood. He said he was just trying to prove a point to his neighbor, but he had no intention of hurting anyone.

Tautua is not new to the court as in 2012 he was sentenced by the District Court to 24 months probation after being convicted of third degree assault and property damage, both class A misdemeanors.

Four years later in 2016, Tautua was charged and later convicted for assault and trespass and was sentenced to 24 months probation.