The Hawaii Department of the Attorney General has charged a 27-year-old inmate in connection with the deadly assault of a 62-year-old inmate at the Oahu Community Correctional Center in Kalihi.
Ezequiel H. Zayas made his initial appearance today before Judge Michelle Comeau at Honolulu District Court via video conferencing from OCCC on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree murder in Vance J. Grace’s death.
During his initial appearance, Comeau repeatedly ordered Zayas to stop talking as he spoke excessively throughout the hearing.
Zayas’ preliminary hearing is scheduled for October. He remains in custody at the correctional facility without bail.
Correctional officers responded to an assault involving two inmates in a cell at Module 7 at about 9:05 p.m. Monday.
One of the corrections officers arrived at the module and observed Zayas allegedly punch Grace in the head multiple times, causing Grace to drop to the ground, according to charging documents filed at district court.
The officer repeatedly commanded Zayas to stop and get on the ground but he did not comply. Police said Zayas then stomped on Grace’s head.
Additional officers responded and restrained Zayas with handcuffs and leg shackles.
Police said Vance suffered a hematoma in the assault and was taken to The Queen’s Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.
Grace was in custody awaiting trial for promoting prison contraband and Zayas was in custody pending trial for burglary charges.
This is the second inmate who died from fatal injuries in an alleged attack at a correctional facility in Hawaii within a two-week period.
Police said 25-year-old Kumulipo Sylva assaulted 70-year-old Harry Hoopii at the Halawa Correctional Facility on Aug. 19. Hoopii suffered head injuries and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sylva is serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter in the 2018 deadly stabbing of a 35-year-old man on Maui.
Hoopii was serving a life term with the possibility of parole for the December 1983 rape, sodomy and kidnapping of a 6-year-old girl. He was also serving another life term with the possibility of parole for attempted murder in the September 1983 stabbing of a 29-year-old man.