The state attorney general says Randall Saito did not get any help from Hawaii State Hospital staff when he escaped last November.
After more than a year of investigating the case, Attorney General Russell Suzuki addressed their findings Wednesday.
Saito escaped Hawaii State Hospital on Nov. 12, 2017, chartered a plane to Maui, then flew to California where he was caught days later.
He allegedly had fake IDs, a cellphone, and thousands of dollars in cash.
“The investigation was complex and required many hundreds of hours of review, evaluation, analysis and documentation by a committed team of investigators,” said Suzuki.
Suzuki did not offer any answers as to how this happened. He says there is a separate criminal investigation that is still ongoing, which will look into how Saito was able to acquire all those items which helped him escape.
It’s not clear when that investigation will be finished.
Saito’s attorney, Michael Green, sheds some light on what he believes happened. He says there was another patient who was indebted to Saito who helped him escape.
Green says Saito was able to leave the state hospital grounds and go to a place called the Koolau Clubhouse, where Saito was able to get those items.
“There may have been multiple meetings with individuals that went there and were able to get him identification and money and set up his ability to leave. I’m convinced of that,” said Green.
He says those meetings were arranged by another patient who had taken some jewelry from Saito and wanted to repay him by helping him escape.
“That’s what I’m told, but he set up these meetings at the Clubhouse. That’s what I believe the evidence will be in this case,” said Green.
Residents near the facility are pleased that more safety measures have been taken. But are disappointed that the investigation took over a year with questions still unanswered.
“I think the residents, they’ve been asking what’s going on with this investigation and if there’s still a criminal investigation going on, I think they won’t be satisfied until that’s resolved,” said Mo Radke, chairman of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board.
During the state’s administrative investigation, six Hawaii State Hospital employees were placed on off-duty status. Two of the employees have retired and four will be reinstated to their positions and will be retrained. Based on the report findings, no hospital employees will receive disciplinary action.
The report also noted Hawaii State Hospital’s inability to adjust to a predominantly forensic patient population contributed to Saito’s escape.
“We knew the AG’s detailed investigation would take time, and we did not wait to take immediate corrective actions and make improvements at the hospital to ensure safety,” said Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson. “Increased security measures were immediately put in place by the hospital administration, and we continue to make improvements that increase patient monitoring to protect employees as well as the public.”
The administrative investigation is protected by law from disclosure, however a redacted version of the final report will be released for purposes of transparency, he said.
Saito was charged with second-degree escape and four counts of first-degree identity theft. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
His trial is scheduled for March 11, 2019.