One of three men convicted in the shooting death of a bar bouncer last December berated the justice system Friday after being sentenced to one to 15 years in the state prison.
"You're sending someone to jail for nothing," Lene Malea Tauiliili shouted after being taken from the courtroom for transport to the state prison. "Nothing's ever going to change."In sentencing Tauiliili, 4th District Judge Cullen Y. Christensen rejected a defense motion for leniency, saying that aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating circumstances. He also rejected a motion that the defendant be given a mental evaluation prior to sentencing.
The sentencing also sparked shouts from Tauiliili's sister, Faimafili, outside the courtroom. She earlier told the court her brother was dragged into the shooting and forced to go along with it.
Tauiliili, 22, pleaded no contest April 1 to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the death of Michael Brown and the shooting of two other Silver Spur bar patrons last Dec. 20. He originally was charged with first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Those charges were reduced following plea negotiations.
Defense attorney Tom Patton asked that Tauiliili be placed on probation and that he serve only a jail term.
"My client made every effort to stop the tragedy once he learned there was a gun involved," he said. "He tried, your honor. An evaluation will show that my client is not the cold-blooded killer the prosecution will have you believe."
Deputy County Attorney Kent Barry reminded Christensen, however, of Tauiliili's prior criminal record, which included a year in a California jail following another shooting. Barry said Tauiliili apparently learned nothing from the previous experience and exhibited a propensity for dangerous criminal behavior.
"Things don't get much worse. We're dealing with a death," Barry said. He said Tauiliili didn't deserve a second chance because he failed to learn "that you don't become involved with others who are wielding firearms. I don't know how many more chances or how many more dead people we can afford to extend this client."
The victim's sister, Debbie Lutz, said Tauiliili knew what he was doing. "My belief is that this man should serve his term," she said.
According to witnesses at the trial of Ranala Mane, convicted in March of slaying Brown, Tauiliili had entered the bar in search of bouncer Tom Tromley. Mane and a third defendant, Savelio Fuga, had been involved earlier that evening in an altercation with Tromley and had threatened to return and kill him. They returned to the bar later after picking up Tauiliili.
Patton said Tauiliili tried to talk Mane out of the shooting. Christensen, however, said the defendant had ample opportunity to leave the men. In addition, he said, the gun used in the killing had previously belonged to Tauiliili, in violation of his California probation.
"There was a gun pointed at my head, loaded," Tauiliili told the court. "I tried to stop them. I refuse to be in prison for something I tried to help, I tried to stop. I need a second chance."