Probe Into Hawaii Mental Patient's Escape to California Wrapping Up

It has been a little over a year since a man escaped to California from the Hawaii psychiatric hospital, where he was committed after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of killing a woman in 1979.

The state attorney general's office is now wrapping up details of an investigation into Randall Saito's escape. The conclusions of an administrative investigation are expected to be released in about two weeks, Krishna Jayaram, special assistant to the attorney general, said in an email.

Saito was captured in Stockton, California, days after walking out of Hawaii State Hospital last November. Saito was sent to the hospital in 1981 after acknowledging he shot Sandra Yamashiro with a pellet gun and then repeatedly stabbed her in her car, which was parked at a shopping mall.

After walking out of the hospital, he called a taxi that took him to the airport, where he took a chartered flight to Maui, and then took a commercial flight to San Jose, California, prosecutors said.

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.

Saito plotted his escape with a banned cellphone, prosecutors have said in court documents.

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.

A court hearing is scheduled Wednesday for escape and identity theft charges against Saito. He has pleaded not guilty. His defense attorney, Michael Green, said Saito will likely admit to the escape but will likely go to trial for identity theft charges. Trial is currently scheduled for Dec. 3.

A judge ordered that he go before a panel of examiners to determine whether he can be held criminally responsible for the escape. A panel of three examiners found him mentally fit to stand trial.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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