Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Baseball bat slaying suspect
says he ‘lost it’

By Debra Barayuga

A man accused of beating an acquaintance to death with a baseball bat at Keehi Lagoon Park more than two years ago was only trying to protect himself but "lost it," his attorney said yesterday.

Sapatumoeese Maluia, 57, went on trial yesterday, charged with second-degree murder in the Oct. 12, 2000, attack that killed Feao Tupuola Jr., 48.

Maluia, a Realtor who was temporarily homeless and living out of his car, had brought out his bat to scare Tupuola away when a struggle for the bat ensued, said deputy public defender Todd Eddins. Maluia then struck Tupuola, and that was when Maluia "lost it and snapped," Eddins said.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said during opening statements that Maluia "cranked" Tupuola repeatedly for 10 minutes with the bat even after he went down, breaking the younger man's skull and causing numerous other injuries.

Witnesses are expected to testify that because he was losing his grip on the bat, Maluia washed off the blood twice before continuing his assault on Tupuola.

Murder is punishable by life with parole. But if convicted on an enhanced murder charge for particularly heinous or cruel killings, Maluia could face life without parole.

Maluia was previously convicted in 1974 for killing his girlfriend and her grandmother the year before -- which will not be disclosed to the jury. Maluia served for 16 years before being paroled in October 1988. He was subsequently returned to prison for parole violations.

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