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Tui pleads not guilty in killing of fellow inmate

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:14 a.m. HST, Mar 21, 2013

The 32-year-old inmate accused of killing a fellow prisoner at Oahu Community Correctional Center entered a plea of not guilty this morning.

Joseph Tui Jr., 32 is charged with first-degree murder in the March 9 beating death of Cyrl Chung in an OCCC holding cell. 

Tui, who is being held at OCCC, entered his not guilty plea via a closed circuit hookup from the Kalihi prison facility.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkin set his trial date for the week of May 28. His trial judge will be Michael Wilson.

The charge carries a mandatory life prison term without the possibility of parole, the state's harshest penalty, because the killing happened while Tui was imprisoned.

An autopsy determined Chung, 76, died of head injuries caused by blunt force trauma.

Tui and Chung were placed together in a special holding unit intended for just one inmate because of overcrowding. Tui was in the holding unit for threatening a staff member, and Chung was there for cigarette possession.

Tui was being held in OCCC on a harassment charge stemming from a July arrest. Chung had been there awaiting trial for robbery since February 2011.

Tui, who has a lengthy criminal record, has a history of mental illness and of refusing to take his medication, according to state court records.

Chung had been waiting for more than two years while lawyers were trying to negotiate a plea deal that would keep him from dying in prison.

He had been arrested on Feb. 15, 2011, and charged with second-degree robbery at Walmart on Keeaumoku Street.

Chung had a lengthy criminal record and suffered two self-inflicted gunshot wounds, court documents say. 

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