Hearing Over Death Of Hans Dalton Opens In Samoa

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Prisoner accused of drowning mentally-ill man while sharing cell

By Sarai Ripine

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 21, 2014) - The hearing of a prisoner in Samoa accused of murdering a mentally ill man from New Zealand started yesterday.

Jonathan Patrick Crichton, 22, from Tafuna American Samoa, allegedly killed Hans Dalton.

He was found dead inside a water-filled 44-gallon drum at Tafa'igata Prison on 26 December 2012.

Mr. Crichton pleaded not guilty to the charge against him, which is being heard before His Honour, Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai.

Justice Lesatele set the trial duration for four to five days.

The lawyer for the prosecution is Precious Chang, while Rosella Papali'i is representing the defendant.

During her opening remarks to the court, Ms. Chang said her job was to put together evidence to prove the charge against the defendant.

She said during the course of the trial, she would present witnesses who would tell the court what they heard and saw at the time of the alleged crime.

She said there was evidence that proves in the early hours of Boxing Day in 2012, that Mr. Crichton drowned Mr. Dalton in the 44-gallon drum inside the special cell they were both occupying.

Ms. Chang told the Court that Mr. Dalton was not a strong person, that he was mentally ill and his family had to look after him because of this condition.

She said it was because of his illness that on December 23, 2012 a family member of Mr. Dalton called the national hospital for help, and in turn the hospital called the police.

She said after that call was made Mr. Dalton was locked up in a special cell in block number two that same night.

In that cell there were other inmates, she said, the accused and a man by the name of Siliva Suitupe.

During the trail, Ms. Chang called Senior Sergeant Sione Menefata to the stand.

He told the Court he had worked at the Faleolo Police Station for more than 20 years.

He said that on December 23, 2012 he was the lead Officer on duty, when a fellow officer informed him that the hospital needed assistance to transport a patient from Aggie Grey's Resort at Mulifanua.

He was told the doctor needed police assistance to transfer the patient to the hospital as it was not a safe situation for the Resort staff to be in.

Sr Sgt. Menefata said he then instructed three police officers, Visesio, Sepulona and Mata, to retrieve the patient from Mulifanua.

He said his officers left together with members of the National Health Service and that they had not gone for long before they returned with the patient.

Then the doctor whose name was Ali'ilelei told Menefata that they needed help holding down the patient while they administered an injection to Mr. Dalton. He said that after being administered with the injection, the patient became calm.

Sr Sgt. Menefata said Ali'ilelei requested that police accompany both himself and Mr. Dalton to the hospital.

The family of Mr. Dalton was in Court for the first day of the trial which began yesterday.

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