HONOLULU (KHON2) — State officials are investigating what led to a pre-trial detainee being mistakenly released from custody on Tuesday, May 9.

Sheriffs at District Court let the 38-year-old suspect go free around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

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The Public Safety Department is looking into how the mistaken release happened and said on Wednesday, May 10 that the investigation was in the early stages.

KHON2 reached out to retired judge Randal Lee for some answers on what could have gone wrong.

“There should have been some safeguards at the receiving desk in the cellblock to make sure that the, if they’re going to release someone, they’re releasing the right person,” Lee said.

Defense attorney Megan Kau said this does not happen often, but it is not a surprise.

“It could have been the court’s staff marked the wrong box. You know, ‘No bail set, release on own recognizance.’ Or it could be that the court staff marked the correct box; but when the paperwork got to the sheriff’s office, they confused one defendant for another. And they released the wrong person,” Kau said.

Officials said the detainee barricaded himself in a Kaneohe home after the mistaken release for over an hour before surrendering.

KHON2 asked Lee if he predicts any additional charges to come down the pipeline for the detainee — keeping in mind that he was mistakenly released.

“It’s going to be difficult to charge that person with an escape when that person was released,” Lee said. “Now, the fact that he was hiding out, you could arguably say that, at that point, at one point that person should have been in custody. He or she knew they should have been in custody.”

“I’ve worked with many– several hundreds of defendants,” Kau said, “and they are very well aware of their custody status. They know when they’re released when they’re not supposed to be.”

Lee felt thankful that the situation was resolved peacefully.

“Because, heaven forbid, that person could have been someone who poses a danger to the community and could have done some havoc,” Lee said.

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The Public Safety Department said it is determining if disciplinary action is warranted and will decide on if they need to tighten up the release process.