The slaying of a Provo man has caused a division among previously close family members as both sides try to discover why Samuela P. Loseli was killed.
Loseli, 30, was found dead in his partially burned-out Ford Taurus Feb. 11 in Juab County. Two teen siblings, who are cousins of Loseli's widow, turned themselves into police the same day and were later charged with murder.Loseli's immediate family remains in Tonga, where his body was taken for burial. But members of Loseli's extended family vow that they will be vigilant in speaking on behalf of Loseli during the prosecution of his alleged attackers.
"I talked to (Loseli's) dad," said Springville resident Kisina Neiufi, who is Loseli's first cousin. "He told us to stay away from any revenge. He said, `Just let it go.' "
Although Loseli's family is trying to remain on good terms with the suspects' family, the slain man's relatives are wondering exactly what Loseli's wife, Aselika, knows about the homicide.
About a dozen members of Loseli's family were present in 4th District Court Monday as 17-year-old Lipina Lolohea, who is charged with murder, a first-degree felony, appeared before Judge Lynn W. Davis. Several dozen of Lolohea's family members, including her parents, were also present.
The two groups generally avoided one another, although Neiufi said he has no hard feelings toward Lolohea's family. He said he simply feels sad for Lolohea and her 15-year-old brother, who was charged with murder in juvenile court.
A waiver hearing for Lipina Lolohea was continued until March 30. Her brother is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing in juvenile court Wednesday. Prosecutors will ask a judge to bind the teen over to adult court to stand trial.
Police say Aselika Loseli, 27, slept the night of Feb. 10 while Samuela Loseli's assailants entered their apartment and attacked him. Police say he was in the living room when he was hit over the head with a blunt object and dragged or forced outside to his car.
But the Neiufis don't believe it's logical that Aselika Loseli could sleep through such an episode.
"How can she be in the house and not hear what's going on?" asked Neiufi's wife, Shauna. "And then, how could she get up in the morning and see blood all over the house and think her husband was at work?"
Investigators, however, say they have no plans to charge Aselika Loseli with any crimes. Provo police Capt. Keith Teuscher said investigators already have looked into her account of Loseli's death.
"We've certainly checked that, but that's not something we think is a real factor," Teuscher said.
Aselika Loseli and her 3-year-old daughter stayed with family members in Utah County in the days following her husband's death. She and her daughter are now in Hawaii. Teuscher said she has agreed to return to Utah whenever police need her to.
Shauna Neiufi said Aselika Loseli has given conflicting stories to family members about what she was doing the night her husband was killed. Aselika Loseli allegedly first said she was knocked unconscious but then later said she slept through her husband's attack in their apartment at 615 N. 600 West in Provo, Shauna Neiufi said.
Samuela and Aselika Loseli apparently had a rocky marriage. In 1996, they each pleaded guilty to one count of domestic violence, a class B misdemeanor, according to court records.
Aselika Loseli didn't complete the conditions of a plea-in-abeyance that resolved the domestic violence case, and she is scheduled to appear in 4th District Court June 8.
Family members say the Loselis had considered divorce, and they may have been separated as recently as December.
Samuela Loseli's family members also said they don't believe the rumor that Lipina Lolohea persuaded her brother to help her kill Loseli because he had previously victimized her. Police say they haven't been able to substantiate that claim, but a lifelong friend of Samuela Loseli told the Deseret News last month that she heard Lolohea say she had been attacked.
"Nobody believes the rape allegations, that's for sure," said Shauna Neiufi. "It seems like all we hear is bad stuff about (Samuela). He was a very good guy. He didn't deserve this."
Kisina Neiufi said his cousin enjoyed simple things in life, such as going to work, drawing, participating in LDS Church activities and spending time with his daughter. Family members said Loseli was friendly, a hard worker and the type of person who loved to help others.