Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

October 11, 2018
Man pleads guilty to aggravated assault in beating of store clerk

A Bountiful man pleaded guilty to a felony assault charge in 3rd District Court on Tuesday, after he allegedly beat up a convenience store clerk in August.

Suliasi Niulala Vakalahi, 24, pleaded guilty to an amended count of third-degree felony aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury. As part of the plea deal with prosecutors, charges of first-degree felony aggravated robbery and misdemeanor theft were dismissed with prejudice.

Vakalahi’s bail was also reduced to $10,000 during his change of plea hearing on Tuesday before 3rd District Court Judge Matthew Bates. He is scheduled to appear for sentencing before Bates on Dec. 11 at 1:30 p.m. 

The co-defendant in the case, Helamen Tuakalau Makalio, 25, pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery on Sept. 11. Charges of second-degree felony aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury and misdemeanor theft against Makalio were dismissed with prejudice. 

Makalio is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 30 at 9 a.m. before Bates. 

On Aug. 15, Tooele City police and Tooele County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Maverik convenience store in Tooele on reports of a robbery, a probable cause statement said. Upon arrival, police administered aid to a store clerk who had been severely beaten. 

Police were told four individuals entered the store, took beer and then left without paying for it, the statement said. The clerk had gone outside to get the suspect’s license plate number and was punched several times by two individuals, later identified as Vakalahi and Makalio, breaking his nose and knocking out several of his teeth. 

A witness followed the suspects’ vehicle to a Tooele City residence, where they observed part of the suspect group exit the vehicle and the remainder leaving, the probable cause statement said. A search warrant for the home was executed and Makalio and Vakalahi were identified by those residing in the home.


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