Psychiatric test ordered for man who fed two cats illegally

About the author:

Tina Mata'afa-Tufele is a Pasifika journalist that has been writing and covering news related to the Samoan experience for over a decade. She's written for Samoa News in American Samoa, (covering news from Hawaii, the U.S.

  • Burglar decided to feed the cats
    Burglar decided to feed the cats

The Supreme Court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation for a 27-year-old defendant who allegedly burglarized the METI Samoa office in Vailele twice in the span of four years and in the new case, he fed two cats illegally while inside the office’s mushroom growing room.

The defendant, Walter Iakopo, from Patamea, Saleaula and Vailele, is facing burglary, theft and intentional damage charges in two separate incidents, the first occurred in 2015 and the second occurred early this year in February at the Vailele office of Matuaileoo Environment Trust Incorporated (METI) Samoa.

He appeared before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala Warren Thursday afternoon for sentencing but after reviewing the facts, the judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation and adjourned the matter to 4 July to allow time for the assessment.

“I don’t feel very comfortable sentencing him today,” said Justice Tafaoimalo.

She informed the defendant that he would be taken back into custody at Tafaigata.

“After you speak to a doctor then you will come back and be sentenced,” Justice Tafaoimalo said.

In the 2015 incident, Iakopo is facing charges of burglary and theft for breaking into the METI office, where his father is employed, on 15 July at around 6 to 7 p.m. in the evening.

He was intoxicated and desperate, in search of money, according to the Summary of Facts.

The defendant took a two-thousand tala freezer, a chop saw valued at $1,500, a $1,400 weed eater and a boiler valued at $289. The stolen items are valued at $5,189.

Iakopo, with the help of a friend, carried and concealed the items in a container on nearby land belonging to a friend. 

The defendant’s father was suspicious of him. Iakopo admitted to his father that he took the items and stored them nearby. The matter was reported to police.

The freezer and boiler were recovered and returned to METI.

The matter was called for mention July 2015 but the defendant did not appear. An arrest warrant was issued and four years later in January 2019, he allegedly burglarized the METI office again and police apprehended him in February this year.

In the January 2019 incident, Iakopo is accused of breaking into the mushroom growing room of METI, where his brother works.

When the defendant did not get the keys, he took a machete to two padlocks securing the room.

“He entered the room without authorization and fed his two cats and after that he slept inside the room,” the Summary of Facts states.

The broken padlocks are valued at $70.

He is facing two charges of burglary, one count of theft and one count of intentional damage.

Iakopo pleaded guilty to all charges against him in late February 2019.

He has prior convictions dating back to 2011.