A 22-year-old Tongan man had been charged earlier this month in relation to a murder of 50-year-old man in Nevada, US.
Taniela Siale Lopiseni Salakielu, 22, of Henderson, Nevada, was charged Friday with murder, a first-degree felony; burglary, a second-degree felony; and theft, also a second-degree felony in 2nd District Court.
The state’s media reports said Salakielu was arrested on Aug. 22, 2018, in connection to the death of Rand Hatch, after Hatch was found dead in his Bountiful home a few days earlier.
Bountiful Police began investigating Hatch’s death after his body was found by his brother on Aug. 19. Hatch’s body had “heavy signs of decomposition” when it was found, according to court documents, and an autopsy uncovered blunt force trauma to his head, including a broken jaw and skull fractures.
Police found a jail identifying document and a jail booking slip belonging to Salakielu at the scene, court documents say.
Salakielu was located on Aug. 21 and brought into the Bountiful Police Department for questioning, where he allegedly told detectives that he knew Hatch and that he had gotten into a “verbal altercation with the victim but denied that any physical altercation had taken place.”
A witness, who was interviewed multiple times by police, later said there had been a physical altercation between Salakielu and the victim. The witness and Salakielu had allegedly lived with Hatch earlier in August 2018, but he’d kicked them out.
Salakielu and the witness later returned to Hatch’s residence, where Salakielu allegedly snuck in a window and let her in via the front door. She told police that she saw Salakielu hit the victim.
“She heard the victim moaning and she stated that she then left the house. The defendant exited the residence a short time later,” court documents say.
The victim’s 2007 Silver Infiniti was missing from the home when his body was discovered, and the witness said she and Salakielu allegedly left the area in the car. The car was later found abandoned in Sunset. Salakielu lived in the area, police say.
Hatch had last spoken to a witness on Aug. 10 and records show that his phone was last used during the early morning hours of Aug. 11, court records say. His phone was in the area of Sunset later in the day.
Salakielu has been held without bail in the Davis County Jail since his initial arrest. He has also been charged in several other domestic violence-related cases since his arrest.
On Jan. 16, he was sentenced to 180 days in jail after pleading guilty to one count of third-degree felony assault that occurred in July 2018. A no-contact protective order was granted to the victim in this case, which Salakielu violated on Dec. 4, 2018, when he made up to 30 calls to the victim from Davis jail.
Salakielu pleaded guilty to six counts of violation of a protective order, a third-degree felony, and was sentenced to 180 days jail, receiving credit for 155 days served.
On Friday, he was charged with an additional seven counts of violation of the same protective order in 2nd District Court. Salakielu allegedly called the victim from jail on Jan. 13 and Jan. 15, just days before his assault sentencing hearing.
During his sentencing hearing, the judge ordered Salakielu to have no contact with the victim and contact would be a violation of probation. He allegedly called the victim on Jan. 17 and multiple times on Jan. 18 and 19.
Salakielu’s initial court appearance for the murder charge is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11.