HONOLULU (AP) — A man who fled from a Hawaii psychiatric hospital— where he was committed after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of a woman’s 1979 killing — is mentally fit to stand trial for an escape charge, a panel of three examiners determined.
Randall Saito’s defense attorney and a state prosecutor didn’t dispute the panel’s confidential reports during a brief hearing Thursday.
Saito was captured in Stockton, California, days after walking out of Hawaii State Hospital. Saito plotted his escape with a banned cellphone, prosecutors have said in court documents.
After walking out of the hospital, he called a taxi that took him to the airport, where he took a chartered flight to Maui. He used an alias to arrange the flight and paid $1,445 cash for it, prosecutors said. He then took a commercial flight to San Jose, California.
When he was arrested in nearby Stockton three days after his escape, he had more than $6,000 in cash and fake Washington state and Illinois driver’s licenses bearing his photos with different names, prosecutors said. The fake licenses contained convincing-looking holograms that are difficult to reproduce.
Officials are still investigating the escape, including where he got the money and other supplies.
A judge ordered that he go before a panel of examiners to determine whether he can be held criminally responsible for the escape.
Saito’s trial is scheduled for June, but defense attorney Michael Green said Wednesday his client “will eventually admit to the elopement.”
While jailed near Stockton after his capture, Saito gave various interviews with reporters, including The Associated Press. He said he escaped to show that he should be free.
Saito would rather remain in a Honolulu jail where he’s being held on $500,000 bail instead of return to the hospital, Green said.
By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
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