Man who beat ex-girlfriend to death sentenced

Alapeti Tunoa, Jr.
Alapeti Tunoa, Jr.
Diamond Badajos
Diamond Badajos
Maile Badajos
Maile Badajos

By Leland Kim - bio | email

DOWNTOWN HONOLULU (KHNL) - Life in prison with the possibility of parole: that's the punishment for a man who beat his ex-girlfriend Janel Tupuola to death a year ago in Kailua. Alapeti Tunoa, Jr., will spend at least 30 years in jail.

It was an emotional day in circuit court Friday. By pleading guilty to six felony charges including murder, Tunoa avoids a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"She did not deserve to die that way, but he deserves to spend a very, very long time in jail," said Maile Badajos, Tupuola's mother.

"He showed no mercy and because of that, he is undeserving of any grace, pity or remorse," said Diamond Badajos, Tupuola's niece."

Tupuola's family gets a chance to address the man who took her life just over a year ago in Kailua. Witnesses say Tunoa brutally beat Tupuola with the end of a shotgun, causing deadly brain damage.

"Inner and outer brain bleeding, depressed fracture from the left side of the skull to the base of the skull hinge," said Peter Carlisle, Honolulu's prosecuting attorney.

Her family says Tupuola had left a physically abusive relationship with Tunoa, but he did not want to let her go.

"When she found the courage to live a better life, he in the cold-hearted, unfeeling, uncaring, and senseless act, took a human life," said Maile Badajos. "And that human life was my daughter."

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Tunoa pled guilty to several counts, including murder.

"I just want to say I'm sorry," said Tunoa, in court Friday afternoon. "I wish things didn't happen the way they did, but they did and I'm here now and I'm here to take responsibility."

"He showed no mercy and because of that, he is undeserving of any grace, pity or remorse," said Diamond Badajos. "I advise he take all of his wasted honor, and that his conscience eat away at his being for the despicable crime that he has committed and have him rest assured that my aunty is in a better place, one that he'll never see."

Tupuola's loved ones say it's been the most difficult year of their lives.

"He will never know how much anger, pain, sadness and sorrow he brought to my house," said Maile Badajos. "But how much shame, dishonor and disgrace he brought to his house when he murdered Janel."

Tunoa will serve at least 30 years in jail.

"For the next three decades, he will not have the slightest chance of parole, furlough, or freedom and that is something that is called justice," said Carlisle.

Prosecutors hope Tunoa spends the rest of life incarcerated.

"We can go before the paroling authority and check every time," said Carlisle. "We can also seek a much longer period of time as a mandatory minimum."

And justice is a bittersweet closure to a painful chapter for Tupuola's family.

"He got what he deserved," said Kealii Toelupe, Tupuola's son. "I hope he never comes out again so he can't hurt nobody else."

"She knows her children are in good hands and that no harm can be done to herself, her kids or the rest of us, her family," said Diamond Badajos.

Tunoa has two prior separate felony convictions. This case is the first time Hawaii's "three strikes" law has been used, enhancing the mandatory sentencing portion by at least ten years.