Hawaii State Hospital escapee pleads not guilty, trial set for March

A patient who left Hawaii State Hospital and flew to San Jose has pleaded not guilty to escape.

Randall Saito appeared Tuesday via closed circuit from Oahu Community Correctional Center. His bail was set at a half-million dollars, which needs to be paid in cash only.

Prior to Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Colette Garibaldi, Saito could have posted a bond in the amount of $500,000 with only 10 percent of the bail amount, or $50,000 in cash.

Saito had fake IDs, cell phones, and thousands of dollars in cash when he took a charter flight to Maui, then boarded a Hawaiian Airlines flight to the mainland last November.

By the time a public alert was issued, Saito was already in California. He landed in San Jose and had made his way to Stockton before he was captured by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

“The escape is obvious. It’s a question of trying to work something out, and then dealing with whether or not he should remain confined when the escape case is over, whether he should return to the state hospital, and whether he’s still in need of mental health care and treatment,” said Saito’s attorney, Michael Green.

Saito has been a patient at the state hospital since 1981, after he was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity.

“That was 37 years ago. I can’t tell if his mental condition has changed since then,” Green said. “He had free range to walk anywhere he wanted in the facility. So until I read those reports and I look at the psychiatric reports, I’ll have a better idea.”

Since his escape, Saito has said numerous times that he wasn’t crazy.

“I’m not a sex offender. I’m not a psychopath, okay?” he told reporters while in lockup in California. “I have never been on any psychotropic meds, ever, in 37 years. I have never harbored weapons or drugs or been caught taking drugs.

“Necrophilia is my fault,” he added. “I used that as an excuse to get into the state hospital from the get-go in 1979.”

Saito’s trial is set for the week of March 19.

Officials say he’ll be held as a pretrial felon at OCCC until his trial, unless he posts bail.

If he does post bail, officials say he’ll be sent back to Hawaii State Hospital instead of being released into the public.

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