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Gay Good Samaritan’s attackers finally sentenced

Timothy Kincaid

May 24th, 2011

On July 3, 2009, Tapululululu Latu decided to celebrate Independence Day by holding an all night party. At about 6:30 on the following morning, her neighbor, D.J. Bell (who had earlier been at the party) noticed that two small children from the party were wandering about unattended while their parents reveled and took them into his home.

When Lulu noticed that the children were missing, she came to Bell’s home where he returned the kids to her care. But although the children had been well cared for, Lulu became hysterical, slapped Bell, and went back to the party where she rallied the partiers with some tale.

She led the gang back whereupon they broke down the door and attacked Bell and his partner, Daniel Fair, who had been sleeping. They dragged Bell into the yard where they repeated smashed his face into the sidewalk and cut his throat with a piece of glass. Fair was beaten and a television was smashed onto his head. All the while the assailants screamed homophobic slurs at the pair.

The Salt Lake City police came and promptly made arrests. They took Bell to jail on charges of kidnapping.

To the bafflement of the entire community, the District Attorney insisted on pressing the charges and took the case to trial. Although Bell was not wealthy, a number of attorneys and private investigators stepped up to provide support without any expectation of compensation (not a common practice for those in the legal field).

The jury, having heard the entire story and all the evidence, responded in anger. They accused the District Attorney of wasting their time and were furious at the police for their shoddy investigation. Having decided that the gay guy must be guilty, the detectives didn’t even return phone calls of witnesses that wanted to provide information.

And finally, perhaps in response to an increasingly incredulous public and a string of uncomplimentary news stories, the District Attorney pressed assault charges against Latu and her mob.

And this week sentences were assigned. Other than one, the assailants plead guilty to reduced charges. (Deseret)

Peace, 35, Ieti Mageo, 34, and Ietitaia Tavita Nuusila, 27, previously pleaded guilty to reduced charges of aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and rioting, all third-degree felonies. They were each sentenced Monday to zero to five years for each count, but 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy ordered the sentences to be served concurrently.

They were also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $14,865 to Bell and Fair.

Tapululululu Latu, 31, was sentenced to 365 days in jail for attempted riot, a class A misdemeanor, but 180 days of her sentence was suspended. She will spend two years on probation when released.

As for Bell, he still has scars and permanent partial loss of hearing in his right ear.

Comments

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Soren456
May 24th, 2011 | LINK

Representation without expectation of compensation “not a common practice for those in the legal field”?

A gratuitous insult.

Pro bono work is a part of every legal practice of which I’m aware.

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2011 | LINK

Soren,

Good point. I wasn’t thinking in terms of pro-bono, but rather that this was such a convincing case and so offensive to the sense of justice that attorneys and others felt compelled to participate.

But you are right.

Matt
May 24th, 2011 | LINK

Those names — wow. Are they Pacific Islanders? I have never seen names like that.

Edwin
May 24th, 2011 | LINK

Nothing like just slapping their hands and giving them light sentences. This is just stupid.

EZam
May 24th, 2011 | LINK

This should go to a higher court, fine them for everything they have, and give every one of them at least a decade in the big house.

Jerry
May 24th, 2011 | LINK

Maybe there will be some justice in the future. The judge and the DA might fall of a cliff and break their necks and this ugly cockroach pretending to be human might get run over by a truck in front of her victims and they will have the satisfaction of watching her bleed to death slowly.

I am not normally this viscous but this article really made me angry.

Scott L.
May 24th, 2011 | LINK

Hey, this is Utah we’re talking about, the gay guy is lucky he wasn’t murdered. The judge would’ve said that he’d contributed to his own death and got what he deserved.

In case anyone thinks I’m being hyperbolic I refer you to Judge David S. Young, who did exactly that in the 80s. I don’t remember the victim’s name but he’d been partying with a guy one night. The perp beat the victim badly, left, came back four hours later and finished the job with a hammer he brought with him. Young said that it was a crime of passion and if the victim hadn’t been taking drugs he wouldn’t have been murdered.

Young wasn’t removed from office until 2003, when he said that a fourteen year old girl contributed to her gang-rape.

Lucrece
May 24th, 2011 | LINK

What the hell?

They beat the victims with murderous intent, slashing someone’s throat and smashing a TV on someone’s head– and they get FIVE F*CKING YEARS MAX?!!

They might as well be out by three years. And the interviewed assailants weren’t even repentant of beating up the gay couple.

It was a premeditated attack…

This is why gay people simply can’t put their trust on government for their protection and should start considering emptying shotguns on would-be assailants.

And the woman who basically conjured up this lynching only got one year in jail. What a joke.

This is not even close to justice. What happened to hate crime charges?!!!

Muscat
May 25th, 2011 | LINK

This is pretty awful, but is there at least also the possibility of a civil trial where Bell and Fair could be awarded additional compensation?

cowboy
May 25th, 2011 | LINK

The District Attorney at that time was Lohra Miller (a top-tier graduate of BYU J. Ruben Clark Law School). She has been replaced in the last election. There is no certain way to know, but this fiasco probably contributed significantly to her loss in the election.

It still makes me wary of how I feel I would be treated by the most “progressive” police department in my State.

Scott L.
May 25th, 2011 | LINK

cowboy, what part of town did this happen in? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Avenues, Marmalade Hill or Federal Heights.

Reed Boyer
May 25th, 2011 | LINK

The police and D.A. response set three three-word phrases off in my head:

Salt Lake City?

Location, location, location.

“It’s Chinatown, Jake.”

Richard Rush
May 25th, 2011 | LINK

Scott L. said, “Hey, this is Utah we’re talking about . . .”

Right. With Utah being a de facto theocracy, I understand that
UTAH = Unbridled Theocracy Against Homosexuals.

cowboy
May 25th, 2011 | LINK

Scott L: It was near Liberty Park where they used to live. I have some friends living in that area. They have told me the whole event was mishandled by the police from the get-go.

Regan DuCasse
May 25th, 2011 | LINK

@Matt,
During the 1970′s, there was a sea change in the Mormon church to actively recruit people of color. There was a huge push in Samoa, citing the issues that seem to plague Pacific Islander areas of the world where missionaries have NEGATIVE influence after Colonialization: poverty and alcoholism.
Samoans started to become members of the Mormon church, but in a limited way.

Twenty years ago, a mob of Samoans beat a young black kid to death. He was the only child of a well known actress here in Hollywood.

Although Bell was well meaning and innocent, his first mistake was to have the child in his house. He should have gathered the children and TAKEN THEM HOME to their parents. I’m sure he felt safe in bringing the children into his home because he was probably good neighbors, and well known to this family.
No doubt he felt confident they wouldn’t have minded what he did.

The sad thing is, the bigotry that some people have surfaces with the more hairiest of triggers. That is to say, when you’re an outsider, you can’t trust in what way or when someone will use your difference against you. I have been through this personally. I know we all WANT to trust, and it’s a terrible burden not to.

But the willingness in which people want to take their distrust and anger to such extremes and harm you cannot be predicted. Sorry to say, the safest thing he HAD to do, was give the children directly to their parents, regardless of how drunk and loud they were.

My heart goes out to him. He was trying to do the right thing. It truly is heartrending how much people want to punish for doing what’s right.

cowboy
May 25th, 2011 | LINK

Not to defend the Salt Lake Police Department, but at shortly before there was a highly emotional episode where a predatory man lured a young girl into his apartment and did all sorts of horrible things and after days of futile searching they eventually found the little girl’s body in or near this man’s apartment.

It was interesting to witness how the police and the TV media manipulated this story. They said it was two gays that “kidnapped” the children. Kidnapped should never have been a word to describe the situation. It was a purposefully loaded emotionally-laden term.

It has taken years for the truth to get out and justice served.

One other thing: I have on good authority that when they booked DJ into jail the jailer refused to accept him and said he needed medical attention and insisted they take him (and his partner) to a hospital.

Why didn’t the police do that?

Were they predisposed in thinking a particular way when it involves gays? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

DC
May 26th, 2011 | LINK

I hope that Latu’s children will be able to recall these events when older. First she neglected them, pushing them outside and leaving them unattended so that she could get crazy with her guests. Next she and her guests go on to beat the only persons concerned with their welfare that evening to a pulp and try to kill them. I don’t wish any more harm on these children, I truly don’t. They will unfortunately have to deal with the accident of their birth someday – meaning they were dealt such a loathsome mother. She may be getting off easy now, but someday she may be haunted with her actions should her kids remember and realize what she is.

Norris Nordin
May 26th, 2011 | LINK

In this incident, it is not only the party host and her guests who should be jailed (without suspended sentences), the district attorney and the police involved should be charged as well. Not that a jail sentence would be a learning exercise for any of them, for they are all likely functioning with IQ’s lower than their shoe sizes. I hope it will be possible for the “good Samaritan” neighbors to sue those who assaulted them for every cent they have!

Timothy Kincaid
May 27th, 2011 | LINK

Norris,

I doubt they would get much from the neighbors. However, at one point there was some discussion about a lawsuit against the city for wrongful prosecution.

I don’t know where that stands, or even if it is still a possibility, but when a jury returns after only 3 1/2 hours of deliberation and angrily accuses the police of incompetence and prosecutors of trying to jail someone who was doing good, you may well have a case.

eugene
May 27th, 2011 | LINK

We lived on green st not far from Liberty Park.
I detest LDS, and the evil they perpetrate on us all. However, in my opinion the jury needs to get credit for making fools of the prosecutor and the DA. SLC is really liberal. Mayor Rocky Anderson is famous for getting in the face of the LDS and the state government.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Anderson
there are of course screwed up people in SLC, but i was very surprised to learn that there are some very cool people there too.

Marcia
May 28th, 2011 | LINK

Did those children who were wandering around unsupervised belong to Little Lulu? Why weren’t the parents held responsible?

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