Jury finds man guilty
of baseball bat murder

By Debra Barayuga

A Circuit Court jury found 57-year-old Sapatumoeese Maluia guilty as charged of second-degree murder for beating an acquaintance to death with a baseball bat nearly two years ago.

Feao Tupuola Jr., 48, suffered numerous injuries to the head and upper body in the Oct. 12, 2000, attack at Keehi Lagoon Park, which prosecutors described as "very bloody and very violent."

Although second-degree murder is punishable with life with parole, Maluia faces a life term with no parole when sentenced Jan. 3 because of a previous double-murder conviction.

Deputy public defender Todd Eddins had argued that Maluia was acting in self-defense, believing Tupuola was armed. "He was fearful, and things got out of hand and he lost it," Eddins said during closing arguments.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said there was no excuse for the violence Maluia inflicted on Tupuola, who was unarmed. The two were former cellmates at Halawa Correctional Facility in the 1980s.

A couple who was with their children at the park that evening testified they saw Maluia strike Tupuola in the head and upper body between 20 and 30 times after the younger man tripped and fell backward on a curb.

They testified Maluia was "swinging with all his might," as though trying to hit a home run, Van Marter said.

Maluia had been sitting in the passenger seat of his new 2000 Mercury Cougar when Tupuola apparently got into the driver's seat. Van Marter said it appeared Tupuola wanted to sit in and drive Maluia's new car, but Maluia refused and retrieved a bat from the back seat before confronting Tupuola, who had exited the car.

He said Maluia showed self-control by interrupting his attack on Tupuola twice to wash blood off the bat.

Van Marter said Maluia displayed the same volatile temper years ago in 1973 when he shot and killed his girlfriend and his girlfriend's mother with a shotgun in their Kahala home.

Although the Hawaii Paroling Authority at the time ordered that Maluia serve a minimum of 99 years, he was released on parole in 1988. He was returned to prison a year later for parole violations and spent another year before he was again released.

Maluia "should never have been paroled," Van Marter said.

While in prison, Maluia beat up a fellow inmate, requiring that he undergo brain surgery, Van Marter said.

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