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7 FACE CHARGES IN AUGUST SLAYING IN PROVO

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As two members of a group charged with killing an Orem man testified Wednesday of heavy drinking and fighting, some of the defendants' friends and family members laughed.

But when 4th District Judge Ray M. Harding bound five of the suspects over for arraignment on felony charges, the laughing stopped and the weeping began. As Harding discussed possible trial dates, the gravity of the charges appeared to sink in.The group is accused of causing the death of John Freitag, 38, who died Aug. 25 after being struck in the stomach by a single gunshot fired through his front storm door.

Leikina Lavulavu, 19, American Fork, is charged with murder, a first-degree felony. Prosecutors believe he fired the fatal shot.

Beau Heaps, 17, Orem, also is charged with murder. He and Freitag allegedly argued and exchanged threats during a three-week period over damage to Freitag's home caused during a party. Also, Heaps was allegedly angry that Freitag was going to become a drug informant for police. Investigators say Heaps is the one who convinced the group to go to Freitag's home that night.

Bo Malupo, 19, Provo; Tonga Mounga, 19, Orem; Topouniua Unga, 19, Provo; David Niu-mei-tolu, 19, Provo; and Anthony Tai, 26, Provo; were charged with homicide by assault, a second-degree felony.

The five didn't know Freitag and allegedly went along with Heaps and Lavulavu to help beat him up. Even though a fight never occurred, prosecutors say the group's intent to assault Freitag ended in his death.

"If seven people hadn't gathered together and gone over to Mr. Freitag's home that night, he would still be alive today," Utah County Deputy Attorney John Allan said.

Niumeitolu and Tai accepted plea bargains with prosecutors. The charge against Niumeitolu was dismissed, and he agreed to plead guilty to attempted escape, a Class A misdemeanor, and driving while intoxicated, a Class B misdemeanor, in an unrelated case. Tai pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted aggravated assault, a Class A misdemeanor.

Both Niumeitolu and Tai testified Wednesday that the group had been partying for about three days and was at a friend's apartment drinking when they got a telephone call. Most of the group didn't know the call was from Freitag, but they passed the telephone around and exchanged threats and profanities. Investigators believe Freitag called the home because Heaps paged him.

Niumeitolu said the group, which he called obnoxious and big talkers, got in Lavulavu's car and drove over to Freitag's home to "resolve it." He said Heaps called Freitag a "pyscho and tweeker."

"He was the one who kept egging things on," Niumeitolu said.

Several of the defendants confessed to police that they went over to Freitag's home to beat him up, even though they didn't know him.

Niumeitolu said the group parked at the end of Freitag's cul-de-sac and walked about a half block to his duplex. Unga stayed down the street while he, Mounga and Malupo went to the side of the home, Niumeitolu said. Tai and Lavulavu went to the door and Heaps hid behind a car.

When Freitag came to the door, Tai yelled to the others, "Does anybody know this guy?"

Niumeitolu said the others came around to the front and then heard Malupo say, "He has a gun." Niumeitolu testified he then saw Lavulavu pull a handgun out of his shorts and ask, "Should I shoot him? Should I shoot him?"

Just after the group started to flee, he heard a shot, Niumetolu said. Both Niumeitolu and Tai testifed that neither of them saw Freitag with a gun and that no one in the group knew Lavulavu had a gun.