Murder suspect applies for bail

The lawyer representing murder suspect Kolani Junior Lam has argued his client should be given bail as the Police only have “circumstantial evidence”.

Appearing in the Supreme Court last Thursday before the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, defense lawyer Leiataualesa Komisi Koria submitted the police were only relying on circumstantial evidence and cited several courts cases in his submission, to argue that his client is released on bail pending the outcome of the murder trial.

“The prosecution who opposes bail in this application has cited the strength of the prosecution is evidence.

“I submit at this stage the evidence cited by the prosecution is circumstantial at best, especially when it relates to murder and manslaughter and in relation to those charges, there has been no direct evidence.

“As of this morning, there was no forensic scientific evidence and no medical evidence refers to the submissions by the prosecution—yet that is crucial in any homicide case,” he said in his submission to the Court. 

The matter has been adjourned to Tuesday for the Chief Justice to hand down his ruling on the bail application. 

Leiataualesa also informed the Court the defendant is prepared to defend himself in the proceedings and he has engaged legal presentation to assist his defense together with his family’s support.

But prosecutor Leone Su’a, in response, cited three main risks of failing to appear: re-offending while out on bail and the defendant interfering with witnesses for the prosecution. 

“The main witnesses—which referred that are at risk of being interfered and tampered with—is the daughter of the deceased, the babysitter, the mother of the deceased and the son of the defendant,” he submitted. 

Su’a informed the Court the defendant seeks to reside with his family at Falelauniu albeit to the change of address, whether Sinamoga or Alafua—which are still in close proximity to where the deceased’s daughter attends school. 

The Court heard from Su’a that the deceased’s daughter has chimes in her room, which will alert her if anyone enters her room, and that she also sleeps with a knife under her pillow. 

According to Su’a, the babysitter has indicated the defendant had written to her from jail, which was clearly an attempt to influence her evidence. 

“He had made several attempts to contact the babysitter several times after the alleged incident in an attempt to influence her evidence. The babysitter in her affidavits maintains that while she was with the Police the defendant told her what to say.” 

Furthermore, on November 2018 the defendant sent over a letter to the babysitter, asking her to stick to her statement given to the police.

The letter from the defendant to the babysitter which was in Samoan was read out by Su’a. 

“The Police have are accusing me and they have arrested me for murder, please don’t say anything further as the devil continues to blame me,” the letter stated.  

The prosecutor asked the Court to consider that despite the defendant’s denial of attempting to influence the babysitter’s evidence. 

Prior to adjourning of the case, the Chief Justice queried the Attorney General’s Office if they can proceed with the hearing of the case by January, 2019. But Su’a advised that the pathologist is not available until after January. 

Kolani was arrested three weeks ago by the Police, following the release of a preliminary autopsy report on the post mortem conducted on his wife Sa'u Justina Sa'u, who was until her death last month the C.E.O. of Unit Trust of Samoa. The Ministry of Police has not ruled out foul play.

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