Apelu Saito Lilo was charged in April last year with one count each of child molesting, rape, sexual assault, sodomy, deviate sexual assault, and first degree sexual abuse — all felony charges.
But under a plea agreement read in High Court last week Friday during a change of plea hearing, the defendant pled guilty to deviate sexual assault, which is punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.
Samoa News reports with the plea agreement accepted by the court, the remaining charges were dismissed.
For the guilty pled, the defendant admitted that sometime in April of last year, he had sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl and the reason the defendant committed the crime was for sexual gratification.
Under the plea agreement, the government would seek a lighter sentence for the defendant, and this includes that him be deported back to his home country of Samoa, after serving any jail time imposed by the court. Lilo, who remains in custody unable to post bail, will be sentenced July 14th.
The High Court has set sentencing on July 14th for Joeita Fa’aaliga, who last Friday pled guilty to three felony counts.
Fa’aaliga, who is currently serving 40 months in jail for a 2013 burglary conviction, was charged in two separate cases filed by the government.
For the first case, Fa’aaliga is faced with two felony counts — escaping from confinement and stealing, while in the second case, he faces three felony counts — escape from confinement, second degree burglary and stealing.
The stealing and burglary charges occurred when the defendant had twice escaped from the Territorial Correctional Facility last year.
Under the plea agreement with the government and accepted by the court, Fa’aaliga pled guilty to the two felony counts from the first case and the stealing charge from the second case.
For the guilty plea in the first case, the defendant admitted that sometime on July 30, 2016 he escaped from jail and broke into a home where he stole a cell phone, which is valued at around $799.
Regarding the guilty plea of stealing from the second case, the defendant admitted that sometime on June 18, 2016, he escaped from TCF.
The defendant then made his way to a store where he broke in and stole $1,500.
As part of the plea agreement, the government agreed not to file charges for two other times that the defendant escaped from jail as well and for assisting another inmate to escape from jail.
Provisions of the plea agreement, has the government requesting the court to deport the defendant to his home country of Samoa, after serving the current jail term from the 2013 case and any new jail terms from the current cases.
The government is also asking for a court order prohibiting the defendant from returning to American Samoa, during any probation period imposed by the court.
Based on court information in 2013, the defendant entered the territory in 2012 under a 30-day permit and never returned to his home country of Samoa.
Photo: High Court American Samoa