Thieves caught, but victim also charged for alleged assault of the juvenile thief
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of burglarizing an apartment in the Ottoville area and stealing an iPhone, a laptop and a check is now in custody after police officers arrested him last month pursuant to an arrest warrant signed by the court.
During his arrest, officers found a small black pouch inside his pocket containing an illegal substance.
The defendant, Willie Taulefue, along with a juvenile who is identified in the court affidavit as J.F are the two individuals that are allegedly involved in this case.
Samoa News should also point out that after the investigation into this matter, the victim, Eddie Fuata was also arrested and later charged with 2nd degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child on the allegation that he assaulted the juvenile (J.F).
It was the J.F’s mother who filed a criminal complaint against Fuata after she saw the injuries on her son’s face.
THE BURGLARY CASE
On Aug. 17, 2021 around 7:30a.m, a male individual who identified himself to police as Eddie Fuata, the victim in this case, called the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) and requested police assistance immediately at his apartment, which was allegedly burglarized by two people.
Several police officers responded to the call. As police officers approached the area where the call was coming from, a man waved down the police unit. He identified himself to officers as Fuata, the victim in this case.
Two officers spoke with Fuata outside of the apartment while the other two officers secured the area and investigated to secure any evidence.
Fuata was interviewed at the scene where he stated to officers that his apartment had been burglarized in the morning and he was missing an iPhone, his laptop and his check in the amount of $840.56. He further stated a person named J.F told him that he and another guy by the name of Willie Taulefua (defendant) burglarized his apartment.
Fuata was very disappointed and told officers that he really wanted his property back because he needed to cash his check so that he could send some money to his mother in Apia.
Investigators proceeded to Taulefue’s house in an effort to question him regarding the alleged burglary.
When questioned by investigators, Taulefue stated that he and J.F were hanging out in front of J.F’s house on the night of Aug. 16th when J.F laid out a plan to burglarize Fuata’s apartment. They both agreed with the plan and immediately proceeded to the apartment to execute their plan.
When the pair arrived at the apartment, they tried to find a way to enter the apartment. They checked the back door and it was locked, so J.F opened the side window of the house to gain entry while Taulefue was standing outside as a lookout person.
Taulefue told investigators that a few moments after J.F entered the apartment, he came back to him and told him that he (J.F) heard people’s voice from the other apartment next to the victim’s apartment.
Taulefue instructed J.F to go back inside and focus only on the victim’s apartment.
J.F went back inside and after a moment, he came back to Taulefue and told him that he (J.F) saw a laptop on the couch, an iPhone and a check on the table. Taulefua instructed J.F to go back and get all the stuff he saw. J.F agreed and went back to get the items and exited the apartment and they then left the scene and proceeded to the other side of the village.
Taulefue told investigators that J.F took the check and the iPhone while he took the laptop and sold it to another lady for $100, but when investigators interviewed J.F in the presence of his father, told investigators that it was Taulefue who took the laptop and the check while he took the cell phone.
J.F further told investigators that it was Taulefue who initiated the plan to burglarize Fuata’s apartment after he (Taulefue) stated that he needed money to buy something for his family. He admitted that it was he (J.F) who entered the apartment while Taulefue was standing outside as a lookout. He brought the stuff out to Taulefue, as instructed, and it was Taulefue that took the check and the laptop while he took the iPhone.
J.F also stated to investigators that it was the early morning of the following day, Aug. 17th when the owner of the apartment came up to him and invited him to his (victim) apartment. Once he got inside the victim’s apartment, the victim angrily questioned him about his items that were stolen from inside his apartment.
At first, he told the victim that he knew nothing about his stuff, however, after a few moments of conversation with the victim, that’s when he admitted to him that he and Taulefue burglarized his apartment.
Immediately after he admitted it to the victim, the victim started throwing punches at his facial area about 6 times while he was still sitting on the chair inside the living room. He told the victim that it was Taulefue (defendant) who burglarized his home.
The laptop, the iPhone and the check were recovered during the investigation.
Taulefue made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
He is charged with one count of 2nd degree burglary and one count of stealing, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for each crime.
Bail is set at $5,000.
If he posts bond, Taulefue is ordered to remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory without the court’s permission, and not make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, including the victim.
During the initial appearance, Taulefue informed the court that he wished to exercise his rights to a preliminary examination (PX).
Taulefue appeared in court this week for his PX.
During the PX, the government called their only witness to the stand, who also is the lead investigator in this matter, Officer Anthony Muta, who testified that both Taulefue and J.F engaged in the alleged burglary where J.F unlawfully entered the apartment and took items from inside. He further stated it was Taulefue who took the check and the laptop, while J.F took the iPhone with him.
In cross examination, the defense attorney asked whether or not Taulefue entered the house during the alleged burglary; to which Office Muta replied, “No, only J.F. entered the house while Taulefue was standing outside as a lookout person.”
After hearing evidence in the case, the Court found probable cause to bind the defendant’s case over to High Court for further proceedings.
Taulefue appeared in High Court last week where he entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him. Pretrial conference is schedule for December.