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Saito faces extradition hearing in California later this month


    Randall Saito sat at San Joaquin County Jail before a scheduled court hearing in French Camp, Calif., today.

Update 2 p.m.

The public defender assigned to Hawaii State Hospital escapee Randall Saito asked a judge for more time to consult with his client, who is now scheduled back in court for an extradition arraignment later this month, according to the Hawaii attorney general’s office.

At today’s hearing, Saito was handcuffed and chained at his waist. He asked for a court-appointed attorney and told the judge: “I really don’t want to go back to Hawaii.”

The judge assigned an attorney and continued the hearing until Nov. 27, when Saito will have the choice to admit his identity and agree to extradition back to Hawaii, or to contest extradition, the Hawaii attorney general’s office said. The exact time of the extradition, if approved by the court, is being coordinated between law enforcement authorities in California and Hawaii, officials said.

Attorney General Doug Chin said in a news release today, “We respect the process and will work with law enforcement officials in San Joaquin to make sure they have everything they need to ensure Saito’s return to Hawaii for prosecution as soon as possible.”

In Hawaii, Saito will be held as a pre-trial felon at the Oahu Community Correctional Center unless he posts $500,000 bail, officials said. If he does post bail, he will be sent back to the State Hospital, they said, emphasizing that Saito will not be released into the community.

“At the time Saito makes his first appearance in court in Hawaii, the state intends to ask the judge to increase bail or have him held without bail,” Chin said.

Update 1:40:

Judge Ron Northup of the Superior Court of California in San Joaquin County today continued Randall Saito’s extradition hearing to later this month and ordered the captured Hawaii State Hospital escapee to be held without bail.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau of the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office said the arraignment was continued until Nov. 27 to set an identity hearing, which means Hawaii authorities will send something to prove Saito’s identity, such as fingerprint records or a photograph, Himelblau said.

At today’s hearing, Northup appointed a public defender for Saito.

The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office charged Saito Tuesday with second-degree felony escape, a class C felony. Deputy sheriffs of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office arrested him Wednesday morning on a $500,000 bench warrant from Hawaii.

Saito, who was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity in the 1979 slaying of 29-year-old Sandra Yamashiro, had been held at the State Hospital in Kaneohe since 1981 until Sunday morning when he walked off the hospital grounds.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin has said once Saito is extradited to Hawaii, his office plans to make a case before a judge that Saito is not suffering from a mental defect.

Previous coverage:

An extradition hearing is scheduled for today in California for Randall Saito who deputy sheriffs captured in Stockton after his escape from the Hawaii State Hospital.

The hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. Hawaii time) at the Superior Court of California in San Joaquin. He is being held on a $500,000 bench warrant issued in Hawaii after his escape.

Saito, 59, walked off hospital grounds Sunday morning and caught a cab to Lagoon Drive where he chartered a flight to Maui and boarded a commercial flight to San Jose. Saito arrived in California before hospital officials reported him missing to Hawaii law enforcement authorities.

Deputy sheriffs from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office apprehended him at a gas station on Waterloo Road Wednesday morning after they received a tip from a taxi company.

Joe Martin, general manager of Yellow Cab and Valley Transport Services Inc. in Stockton, called deputy sheriffs when he learned Saito was a passenger in one of their cabs. Martin said he believes Saito was preparing to head to Reno, Nevada.

In 1981, Saito was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity in the 1979 slaying of 29-year-old Sandra Yamashiro. He shot and stabbed her at random at the Ala Moana Center parking lot. Saito was diagnosed with sexual sadism and necrophilia and has been committed to the state hospital for nearly four decades.

In jail-house television interviews Thursday, Saito said the state hospital wouldn’t give him a chance — that every time he applied for release, officials made him “sound like a bad guy.”

“I decided I needed to escape and prove that I’m on my own,” Saito said from jail in Stockton. “That I can be out here and act appropriately. Even though I escaped to do it,” Saito told San Francisco television station KGO-TV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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