Man pleads guilty to Siumu murder
A man has pleaded guilty to the murder of a 21-year-old from the village of Siumu during a fiafia night in April, after overturning an earlier plea of not guilty.
Iakopo Malaki, who is from the same village as the deceased, pleaded guilty to the murder of, Danny Kitiona Tofaeono, as a fiafia night took place in a resort at Siumu.
Malaki’s change of plea was made through his lawyer, Leiataualesa Komisi Koria.
In April this year, Malaki allegedly stabbed the 21-year-old male from Siumu to death at the fiafia night.
Mr. Tofaeono was taken to the hospital but pronounced dead upon arrival.
At the time, Founder and Chairman of Sinalei Resort, Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, said the incident had stunned the village.
During an interview at the time of the incident, he said the pair were suspected to have had “bad blood”.
The men involved in the incident were former employers and both had on-stage roles during the fiafia celebrations that took place at the time of the murder.
The owner had explained that, on Wednesday night, the resort held a regular a fiafia night where Maninoa provided entertainment.
The deceased was one of the supporters (le au tapua’i) of the group while the accused was playing with the string band on the night.
He said the accused was not an employee of Sinalei and recently returned from American Samoa and had sought an opportunity to play with the band.
“So it was during the time there was a break for the band while the other entertainment was on when it happened,” said Tuatagaloa.
“There must have been some differences between these two and had words with the other guy – and in the course of the show Danny went to the back and the other guy must have followed him there to the back – and that is where he [allegedly] stabbed him.
“So the guy that did this must have camouflaged the knife when he went to the back, and everyone thought he just threw a punch but it was fatal.”
The deceased's parents, Atuaia Kitiona and Tiaga Kitiona Tofaeono, said their son was sorely missed.
Atuaia said his son was preparing to celebrate his 22nd birthday the following week before he passed away.
Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke adjourned the matter for sentence on Tuesday afternoon.
He ordered Malaki to be remanded in custody.