Brother of man shot dead in Utah courthouse pleads guilty to manslaughter
Vilisoni Angilau pleaded guilty Friday to charges stemming from the gang-related murder of a teenager last year. Angilau is the younger brother of Siale Angilau, who was shot dead by a U.S. marshal as he lunged at a witness in federal court.
The younger Angilau, 21, was arrested on suspicion of shooting 19-year-old Sione Fakatoufifita to death in Salt Lake City on April 13, 2013. Angilau and Fakatoufifita were members of rival gangs, according to police.
Angilau's arrest came after a three-month investigation into the shooting in the parking lot of a Maverick convenience store at 1680 S. Redwood Road. During the investigation, the Utah Department of Public Safety dive team recovered a handgun that police believed was the murder weapon from the Jordan River surplus canal, according to a probable cause statement.
Police also took statements from witnesses who reported picking up Angilau near the Maverik convenience store and helping him flee. Another witness said Angilau confided about his involvement in his involvement in the shooting, according to the probable cause statement.
Initially charged in state court with first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice, Angilau pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter and discharge of a firearm causing bodily injury, both second-degree felonies. Angilau's defense attorney Steven Shapiro declined to comment on the case or explain his client's decision to accept a plea deal.
The two charges carry a combined potential penalty of four to 30 years in prison. Angilau is set to be sentenced by Judge Katherine Bernards-Goodman on Sept. 8 in 3rd District Court.
On April 21, a deputy U.S. marshal shot Siale Angilau, who was on trial in a racketeering case involving the Tongan Crip Gang, when he aggressively rushed a witness who was testifying in Salt Lake City federal courthouse. The elder Angilau, then 25, was shot four times and died at a hospital hours later.
In the wake of the dramatic shooting, family and other members of the Tongan community said they felt excessive force was used. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice said an FBI investigation found that the shooting was justified.