An attempted murder charge against a man accused of using an electric wire to strangle his wife, when he became enraged over a suspected extra marital affair, has been dismissed.
A panel of five assessors in the Supreme Court dismissed the charge citing the lack of evidence.
The alleged incident occurred on 17 March 2017. Initially when the hearing started on Tuesday, Latai Pule was charged with one count of causing actual bodily harm, one count of being armed with a dangerous weapon, one count of threatening words and one count of attempted murder.
Lucy Maria Sio of the Attorney General’s office was the prosecutor while Lei’ataualesa Komisi Koria represented the defendant. Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren presided.
Pule pleaded guilty to charges of being armed with a dangerous weapon and causing actual bodily harm. He pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and threatening words.
When the alleged incident occurred, the victim was living with her husband and his family. During the hearing, the victim, Sesilia Matina, told the Court that her husband (defendant) assaulted her and used an electric wire to strangle her.
Both the victim and the defendant are from Lotoso’a, Saleimoa. They have one child.
“On the day of the incident, I told Latai that I will be going to one of my cousin’s house to do some work there and get some money after,” she said.
“We agreed that I will go and he stays at our faleo’o to look after our child and cook some food for us.
“So I left that morning everything was fine. By the afternoon around 1pm I came to check up on my son, Latai wasn’t there so I went back to work.
“Later on that day I came back the second time but Latai was still not there and I breastfed my son and went back to my cousin’s place.”
Ms. Matina told the Court that she went back to their house three times and her husband was still not home.
“When I came back the third time, I heard Latai calling me to come with him to our home to breast feed our son because he was crying.
“I went with him and all that time he didn’t seem angry we were talking on our way home and he seemed happy.
“We got to our house I fed my son and then I asked him why he didn’t prepare any food. He didn’t reply so I asked him again and out of nowhere he just punched me on my face.
“He punched me again and that’s when I tried to escape. He caught me and pulled me back in the house and he jumped on top of me and kept punching me.”
Ms. Matina told the court that her husband allegedly dragged her outside of their faleo’o where he grabbed the electric wire, tied it around her neck and strangled her with it.
“He tied the wire around my neck three times and he strangled me with it,” she said. “I tried to take it off but I couldn’t, I couldn’t even talk and I thought I was going to die but his sister came to the rescue and that’s when he let go of the wire.”
In his evidence, Pule admitted that he hit his wife. But he denied using a wire to strangle her.
“I admit that I assaulted her because I found out that she was having an affair with a taxi driver,” Pule told the Court.
“I saw love bites on her chest but she lied to me and then her aunty told me that she left my son at their place and went out drinking the week before the incident occurred.
“I was angry and I wanted to teach her a lesson.
“This is why I assaulted her but I never had the intention of killing her. I didn’t use the electric wire to strangle her. I hit her once at the back of her neck using the electric wire but not to strangle her.”
Pule said Sesilia had a drinking problem.
“I wanted to teach her a lesson that what she is doing is not right and especially after she left my son at her aunty’s place and went out partying, that’s not right and that’s why I assaulted her.”
Dr. Tricia Neemia, who worked at the Emergency Service on the day Sesilia was brought in, told the Court that she examined the victim.
“The victim complained of having pain on her neck and that she told me that her husband strangled her with an electric wire,” said Dr. Neemia.
“After examining her properly I found no physical signs of bruises on the victim’s neck except on her face.
“I even order an x-ray to be done on her to see whether she is bruised inside but there were nothing.”
The matter has been adjourned to the 10th of November for sentencing.