BAKERSFIELD - A former mixed martial artist turned movie actor, could face the death penalty. The District Attorney's office has filed a murder charge against Joseph Son, who appeared in an "Austin Powers" film. Son is already serving a life sentence for a previous crime. Now, he's accused of killing his cell mate at Wasco State Prison.
The alleged murder happened nearly two years ago. But, the D.A.'s office just filed the charge September 9th. Because Son is already a one-striker, if a life inmate is found guilty of murder, he could face as little as 18 years in prison or he's also eligible for the death penalty.
Joseph Son's face flashed on big screens across the country playing the role of Dr. Evil's henchman in the 1997 Austin Powers movie "International Man of Mystery."
The once mixed martial arts fighter, retired and landed his role as "Random Task." Less than ten years after the movie made it big, Son fell from grace. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to felony vandalism and was placed on probation. But, DNA taken from Son then linked him to a 1990 gang rape. In September 2011, Son was found guilty of felony torture and sentenced to life, locked up at Wasco State Prison.
Court documents show a month later, October 10, 2011, at approximately 5:25 in the evening, prison staff got reports of a man down in Son's cell. When staff got there, Son told them, "I told you I needed to get out of here."
Son's cell mate, 50-year-old Michael Graham, was lying unresponsive on the bed and "medical staff arrived and began lifesaving measures." But, Graham was pronounced dead at 5:50 p.m.
The coroner later found, "The cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma, or homicide." Now, the former fighter and movie actor, turned life inmate, might face death if convicted.
The District Attorney's office told 17 News they wouldn't comment on the case until Son's arraignment. They've requested an arraignment date of September 26th. They should know whether they will seek the death penalty or something lighter following the preliminary hearing.