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Young man goes to jail after plea agreement

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The first of three cases against Tavita Lemuelu has been dismissed, under a plea agreement with the government. Last week, the defendant appeared in District Court and pled guilty to public peace disturbance in the second case. In the third case, the defendant pled guilty to contempt of court and third degree property damage, which was amended from the initial charge of trespassing. The two remaining charges in that case were dismissed.

A motion from the defense attorney to dismiss the two cases against his client, on the grounds of no speedy trial, were dismissed by court.

For the second case, Lemuelu admits that he got into a fight at a store in Tafuna last year. He was released on his own recognizance for that case, after spending only one night at the TCF. In the third case, Lemuelu admits that on Dec. 12, 2020 he damaged the window of a home into which he was peeping.

This went against a court order that he remain law abiding, as a condition of his release from the second case.

When given a chance to speak, Lemuelu apologized for his actions and said things happen for a reason "to teach us lessons that we can learn from."

Lemu’elu's history in District Court dates back to 2015, where he was brought in twice for underage drinking, once for trespassing, and again for public peace disturbance.

Under the plea agreement, the first case against Lemuelu was dismissed.

For the second case, he is sentenced to 60 days imprisonment at the TCF for each count. The sentences are to run concurrently. Lemuelu will be credited with 45 days for time served.

For the third case, Lemuelu was sentenced to 20 days incarceration, credited for 1 day of time served.

He was remanded to the TCF to serve out the duration of his sentences.

In the meantime, there is a High Court matter pending against him — an order to show cause based on District Court cases. Lemuelu is said to have failed to remain law abiding, and he also failed to make restitution.