Police: Prisoner allegedly murdered his cellmate

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Mar 10 2013 06:11:00 PM HST

Hawaii police are calling it a murder behind bars.

HONOLULU -

Police are calling it a murder behind bars.  Authorities said a 76-year-old Oahu Community Correctional Center prisoner was beaten to death on Saturday.

Joseph Tui, Jr., 32, was arrested for murder in the first degree for allegedly assaulting his 76-year-old cellmate Saturday afternoon at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.  Police said the attack took five minutes.

"When the officers on each floor completed a count they get together and make sure the numbers add up.  While they were conferring the numbers, the incident took place.  It happened 2:05 p.m. to 2:10 p.m.," said Ted Sakai director of the Department of Public Safety.

In those five minutes, the floors were left without an officer.  And officials said the units are designed to hold only one inmate at a time.  Yet, Tui and the victim were in the holding unit together for two days.

"We have 36 cells in the holding unit, two of them are out of commission because it's a very old unit, and yesterday we had 49 inmates who needed to be separated. So a number of cells had to be doubled up," said Sakai.

Tui was in jail serving time for a third-degree assault misdemeanor.  He was in the holding unit for threatening jail staff members.

The victim was a pretrial felon for robbery.  He was in the holding unit for misconduct for possessing cigarettes.

Police said Tui has been in and out of jail.  Video footage shows Tui and three Halawa prison guards in a scuffle in 2009.

Police are still investigating this crime.  If Tui is convicted of murder in the first degree, his sentence will be life without parole.

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