Prosecutors say inmate admits killing cellmate
HONOLULU (AP) — A 32-year-old inmate admitted beating his 76-year-old cellmate to death to act out his anger at another inmate at Hawaii’s Oahu Community Correctional Center, prosecutors said.
Joseph Tui Jr. is charged with first-degree murder in the March 9 death of Cyrl Chung.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://is.gd/kcilSk ) reported Friday that it requested a recording of a March 14 hearing of an Oahu grand jury that returned the murder indictment against Tui. The recording was received Wednesday.
At the hearing, Deputy City Prosecutor Oksana Vincent told state Circuit Judge Richard Perkins that Tui said he killed Chung even though he had nothing against him.
“He was upset with another inmate who was in a separate cell,” she said. “He was supposed to fight that inmate later on in the day.”
Tui was angry because the inmate in the other cell had been making racial remarks, according to Vincent, who works in the prosecutor’s elder abuse unit.
“That made the defendant very upset. He was getting madder and madder, and when he could not contain his anger anymore, he took it out on his 76-year-old cellmate,” she said.
Tui and Chung were in the facility’s holding unit for inmates who misbehave, state Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai has said. Tui had threatened staff and Chung was caught with contraband, according to authorities.
Tui and Chung were supposed to be in separate cells but were placed together because of overcrowding, Sakai said.
Prison officials called for a city ambulance after discovering Chung nude and unresponsive on the floor of the cell and bleeding from the back of his head.
According to a Honolulu Police Department affidavit, Tui complained of pain in his right wrist and left leg from the assault. Police said Tui told a city paramedic checking his injuries that he punched and kicked the victim in the head, police said.
Tui has been at the corrections facility since January on a harassment charge.
Chung was waiting for more than two years in jail for his robbery trial. His lawyer at the state Public Defender’s Office has said Chung was trying to negotiate a plea deal to avoid dying in jail.