Cellmate of 'Austin Powers' Actor Was Beaten to Death, Say Coronor's Officials

8:34 PM PST 10/12/2011 by Associated Press

Joseph Son, who serving a life sentence for the rape and torture of a Southern California woman, is suspected in the death of fellow prisoner Michael Graham.

The California state prison cellmate of an actor from the first Austin Powers movie was beaten to death, local coroner's officials said Wednesday.

An autopsy performed Wednesday showed 50-year-old inmate Michael Graham died of "multiple blunt force injuries," the Kern County Coroner's Office said. The death was a homicide, the office ruled.

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As previously reported, guards found Graham’s body Monday night in the Wasco State Prison cell he shared with 40-year-old Joseph Son, who appeared in 1997's Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. In the movie, he wore a bowler hat and played one of Dr. Evil's henchmen, named Random Task. He also was a mixed martial arts fighter.

Prison officials said Son is a suspect in Graham's death.

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Son arrived at the prison Sept. 16 to serve a life sentence for the 1990 gang rape of a Southern California woman.

Graham, 50, arrived at the prison June 23. Prison officials said he was a parole violator serving a new two-year sentence from San Luis Obispo County for failing to register as a sex offender.

Graham previously had not been named as the victim, until relatives were notified.

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Son was convicted of torture in August after his DNA linked him to the kidnapping of a then-19-year-old victim as she walked her dog on Christmas Eve.

Son and a co-defendant, Santiago Lopez Gaitan, 40, drove the woman to Huntington Beach at gunpoint. There they raped and sodomized her in the back of the car and repeatedly threatened to kill her.

They released the badly injured woman naked and blindfolded with her own pants.

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Police collected DNA evidence at the time. But they couldn't match it to her assailants until Son pleaded guilty to felony vandalism in 2008 and violated probation. He was then required to provide a DNA sample.

Son's co-defendant pleaded guilty in January to five felonies, including kidnapping and sodomy by force in concert. Gaitan was sentenced to 17 years and four months in state prison.

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