One of three men charged in the shooting death of a bar bouncer last December has pleaded no contest to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, following plea negotiations between defending and prosecuting attorneys.
Lene Malea Tauiliili, in a statement read by defense attorney Tom Patton, apologized for bringing shame upon his family and asked for forgiveness from the victim's family.Tauiliili originally was charged with first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in the death of Michael Brown last Dec. 20. He had pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Tauiliili, 22, will be sentenced April 29 and faces a maximum prison sentence of one to 15 years and a $10,000 fine.
"I feel that this is in the best interest of justice," Deputy Utah County Attorney Kent Barry said regarding the plea agreement.
Fourth District Court Judge Cul-len Y. Christensen told the defendant, "As far as the law is concerned, Mr. Tauiliili, the consequences (of the no-contest plea) are the same (as a guilty plea) as far as the law is concerned." At Patton's request, Chris-tensen ordered Adult Probation and Parole to prepare a presentence report.
The plea arrangement follows last week's trial of Ranala Mane, who was found guilty of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. He will be sentenced April 22.
A third defendant in the shooting, Savelio Fuga, pleaded guilty in January to attempted second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. A charge of first-degree murder is scheduled to be dropped in exchange for his testimony during Mane's trial. His sentencing date is pending.
Fuga testified that he and Mane were angered after bouncer Tom Tromley threw them out of the Silver Spur bar Dec. 19. After obtaining a .45-caliber pistol, they picked up Tauiliili and returned to the bar just after midnight.
Tauiliili was sent into the bar to see whether Tromley was still working. After returning to the car, Fuga testified, Tauiliili reported to Mane that he wasn't sure whether Tromley was at the bar. Fuga said Mane became angry, left the car for the bar and returned a few minutes later claiming he had killed Tromley.
Tauiliili took the witness stand during Mane's trial, but under directions from Patton, pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions.
"I'm glad that my attorney will now let me say something about what happened last December," he said in his statement. "I want to say I'm sorry to my wife and my parents and my family for the shame I have brought them. I also want to tell Mike Brown's family how sorry I am, even though I know it won't bring Mike back. I hope someday that they'll be able to forgive me."
In his statement, Tauiliili warned others "against going along with your friends just for the ride."
"Even though I never thought anyone would really get hurt, I could see how drunk Mane was, and I should have called the cops to stop him," he said. "I thought I could talk him out of it, but when I tried I found I was wrong, and then it was too late."