20 Jan 2012

American Samoa public defender to get training in death penalty cases

8:12 am on 20 January 2012

A judge in American Samoa has approved a motion by the Public Defender's Office for an attorney to get training in death penalty cases.

The Public Defender's Office has been appointed to temporarily represent Siaumau Siaumau Jr. accused of the murder of police officer Liusila Brown in July 2010.

Siaumau's former attorney Tautai Aviata Faalevao withdrew due to health reasons.

The defendant has indicated that his family is looking for another private attorney for him.

In the event that the Public Defender's Office ends up defending Siaumau at trial it wants the attorneys who will handle the case to be prepared to defend against the death penalty.

The government has indicated that if Siaumau is convicted of first degree murder, it intends to seek the death penalty.

Associate Justice Lyle Richmond granted a motion by the defense for the government to pay travel costs and training expenses for one of its attorneys to attend a death penalty training seminar in Alabama, Georgia.