Trial for suspected Leone shooter Manu Lefatia is continued — Key government witnesses will be off island
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The trial of a man charged in connection with a shooting in Leone on August 12, 2018 has been continued to Dec. 2, 2019 after Chief Justice Michael Kruse granted the government’s motion to continue to trial, initially set for Aug. 5, 2019.
Manu Lefatia, who is in custody at a holding cell at the DPS Central Station in Fagatogo appeared in court this week for a status hearing.
Private attorney Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei represents Lefatia, while Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn is prosecuting.
When Lefatia’s case was called, Dunn explained that the motion for a continuance was filed because the two doctors who are scheduled to testify will be off-island during that time.
According to Dunn, the two doctors are the ones who operated on the victim, and the medical reports from these same two doctors are very important to the government’s case.
Uiagalelei did not oppose the motion, saying the defense is ready for trial at anytime.
A status hearing will be called a few weeks before trial, to finalize everything, including the witness list from both sides.
Lefatia is serving time for the DPS Leone Substation shooting several years ago. He also faces charges of first-degree attempted murder; two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, escape from confinement, and possession of a prohibited weapon.
The victim in the Leone shooting case, Sopi Senio, has identified Lefatia as the person who shot him, and Senio’s brother corroborates it.
The charging information points to a cover-up by prison guards on duty when Lefatia, who was supposed to be locked in a cell, is alleged to have fired more than 3 bullets at the victim, and two bullets at the victim’s brother, on the day in question.
According to the government, when Senio came out of his house, Lefatia raised what appeared to be a revolver and asked, “What’s up, Sopi?” and started shooting at him.