Evidence questions delay Faleasiu murder trial

A trial for four men accused of killing a man in Faleasiu in 2018 has been delayed following an appeal from a defence attorney about whether evidence could be admitted to a trial of the case.

On Monday morning, the defendants in the case - Puka Wesley, Faasipa Matuu, Milo Lilomaiava and Peato Upu - appeared before Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl M. Clarke.

The men have all pleaded not guilty to beating a man to death in Faleasiu in February 2018

The prosecutor in the trial, Lucymaria Sio Ofoia, told the court the matter was now concerned whether an assessor-based trial could hear “cautioned statements” or pre-trial interviews given by the suspects and Police. 

Proceedings challenging whether the evidence can be presented - known in legal language as a “voir dire” - were held separately. Earlier this month Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala Warren ruled the statements were admissible.

Lilomaiava is represented by Unasa Iuni Sapolu; Wesley is represented by Mauga Precious Chang; Matuu is represented by Leota Tima Leavai; and Upu is represented by Sarona Ponifasio.

But now Ponifasio has filed for an appeal of Justice Tafaoimalo’s ruling.

The defendants appeared before Justice Leiataualesa to have the court set a date for the appeal to be heard.

“The matter is in court today to determine a date because this will be an appeal matter for the Court of Appeals,” said Ofoia.

The prosecution opposes the appeal.

Justice Leiataualesa adjourned the matter to 6 July.




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