Joe Son Suspected in California Inmate’s Death

By Mike Whitman Oct 11, 2011
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Tuesday announced in a press release that former fighter Joe Son has been identified as a suspect in the case of an unnamed inmate’s death.

The inmate, who remains anonymous as the CDCR notifies his next of kin, was reportedly found dead in his cell at Wasco State Prison-Reception Center on Monday evening. The deceased, 50, was admitted to the facility on June 23, 2011, on a two-year sentence for failure to register as a sex offender.

Son was sentenced Sept. 9, 2011, to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the 1990 gang rape of a woman walking her dog on Christmas Eve.

The former fighter and actor was convicted on one count of felony torture on Aug. 25. Son was identified by DNA evidence he submitted as part of a plea when he was reportedly arrested for felony vandalism in May 2008. His sample was matched to that of a sample collected from the victim in 1990, and Son was arrested later that year on Oct. 7 by Huntington Beach Police Department detectives.

Son, 40, made his MMA debut in 1994, submitting to a Keith Hackney choke at UFC 4 after being hit with numerous groin strikes. The stocky native of South Korea never won a sanctioned MMA fight, going 0-4 before retiring from the sport in 2002. Son was also known for an acting career, most notably appearing in 1997's “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”

As noted in the facility's release, the primary function of Wasco State Prison-Reception Center is to provide short-term housing for new inmates while they are being processed. The facility also serves to determine inmates’ “security level” while evaluating their physical and mental status prior to transferring them to permanent institutions.
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