Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Justice Delayed But Not Denied: Seven Tongans Charged In Home Invasion And Mob Assault On D.J. Bell And Dan Fair In South Salt Lake

Update March 26th: Additional information and a link to a newer Tribune article posted in green.

After a year and a half, justice is finally being served. KSL Channel 5 reports that seven people are being charged in the home invasion and mob assault on D.J. Bell and his housemate, Dan Fair. The Salt Lake City Weekly also filed a story.

The people charged are Lisa Rita Aione, Marsha Rae Finau, Angelina Janae Dibella, Tapululululu Latu, Ricky Ian Peace, Ietitaia Tavita Nuusila, and Ieti David Mageo, all of Tongan origin. Collectively, they face a total of 16 charges ranging from first-degree felony aggravated burglary to a class A misdemeanor of giving false personal information to a peace officer. From the Deseret News comes an individual breakdown (read the six-page charging document HERE):

— Tapululululu Latu, 30, charged with riot, a third-degree felony. It is believed she deliberately waited until after her five "homies" staged the home invasion before calling 911.

— Lisa Rita Aiono, 26, charged with riot, a third-degree felony.

— Marsha Rae Finau, 30, charged with riot, a third-degree felony.

— Angelina Janae Dibella, 31, charged with riot, a third-degree felony and assault, a class A misdemeanor.

— Ricky Ian Peace, 33, charged with aggravated burglary and aggravated assault, first-degree felonies, and riot, a third-degree felony.

— Ieti David Mageo, 32, charged with aggravated burglary and aggravated assault, first-degree felonies, and riot, a third-degree felony. Mageo also has a criminal history of previous home invasions.

— Ietitaia Tavita Nuusila, 26, charged with aggravated burglary and aggravated assault, first-degree felonies; riot, a third-degree felony; assault, a class A misdemeanor; and giving false personal information to a peace officer, a class A misdemeanor.

Dibella, Finau, Latu, Mageo, and Nuusila have been arraigned in 3rd District Court and have April 20th scheduling hearings. Lisa Rita Aiono, 26, and Ricky Ian Peace, 33, were arrested March 25th in Las Vegas, and will be extradited back to Utah.

Although D.J. Bell and Dan Fair were not available for comment Tuesday afternoon, Susanne Gustin, one of the attorneys who represented Bell during his trial, said both men are pleased by this turn of events.

This stems from a confrontation between Bell/Fair and the perpetrators at their South Salt Lake home on July 4th, 2008. Two children from the Tongan clan came over to get away from the noise of the drunken adult Tongan revelers. Bell gave them each a glass of Kool-Aid, but did not let them in the house. Tapalululu Latu came over, saw the kids and chimped out, fearing a "kidnapping"; she took the kids away and promised retribution. Moments later, five others burst through Fair's doors and windows, trashing the home and beating Bell and Fair to within an inch of their lives. But Bell was regarded by prosecutors as the "bad guy"; he was put on trial in September 2009 on two counts of child kidnapping, both first-degree felonies, and one count of burglary, a second-degree felony. A jury acquitted Bell of all counts after a four-day trial and after less than three hours of deliberations.

Bell and Fair also tell their story on the Injustice801 website, and this case has been previously documented on this blog in this series of posts, in reverse chronological order.

A March 26th Salt Lake Tribune article provides more specific details about who perpetrated the assaults. Dan Fair told police Mageo, Peace and Nuusila came into the house and punched him and hit him with a chair, a frying pan and a television. Peace also allegedly threw a salt shaker at his head. Fair ended up with deep cuts to the head that required staples, a fractured eye socket, a fractured hand, a broken nose and a concussion. D.J. Bell said the other four assailants pulled him from the house by his hair and body-slammed him to the ground. He said a woman cut his neck and chest with a piece of glass. Another woman allegedly kicked him in the forehead.

The September 2009 trial stirred strong emotions among the gay community and among Pacific Islanders, since Bell and Fair are both white gay men and the neighbors are Tongans. Bell's supporters insisted that he — as a gay man — was a convenient scapegoat for a bunch of drunken neighbors who neglected their children during their wild partying. However, several of the Tongans played the race card after Bell's acquittal, claiming that the trial's outcome would have been different if the two missing children had been white. No hate crime charges are being contemplated at this time.


Anonymous said...

i think thats dumb, your really going to look for all these people, for something they did as an act of trying to get their kids back....."when u take someones kid, and they find them in your house! they are not gonna juss leave and then call the cops!!! they are going to make sure you never wanna take anybodys kid again!!!"

Anonymous said...

that is so right!!! and i juss saw the picture they took of the guy who took the kids....."HE DESERVES TO BE KILLED!!!" KEEP YOUR HEAD UP TO THE PARENTS OF THOSE CHILDREN....HE DESERVED EVERY HIT AND IS LUCKY TO BE ALIVE...!!!

Angie said...

How incredibly sad that the previous 2 comments are so hate-filled and ignorant. Those children were never in the house...and the absolutely evil people who nearly killed Dan and DJ deserve to spend the next several years paying for their actions.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to write articles about this story, you could check your facts. I'll just point out the basics...only one of these people is Tongan, the others are Samoan, Italian, and Hispanic. Wonder what else you are wrong about...hmmm...

Anonymous said...

First off I want to say media loves to b.s so they can have a story seven Tongans what are you joking from what I know of Polynesians the only last name that is Tongan is latu and I highly doubt the last name DiBella is Tongan looks more Italian to me lol duh!!! I followed this story from the beginning now why Mr Bell got off scares me to death!! Did our justice system not see how many times he changed his story and why would those people invite him to party with them if they hated gay people and why would the family go through all of that hell I say hell because of how the media has made the victims out to be the guilty even before he was found not guilty!! Why would anyone go through all of that for a lie! Good luck to the families you have my prayers and support 100%

Anonymous said...

the media sure does love to exaggerate and make this story..they need to know that not all of those people are tongans thank you..and for your information the polynesian people have gay people in their community homesexuals and i know for a fact that isn't why they beat the hell out of them..i would beat someone up also if they took my kids into their homes..why didnt they come over to the house and let the parents know where the kids where..hmmm alot of things do not sound right and just for you white people to make a story change so manny times and always get it straight..thank you