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State Hospital escapee pleads not guilty

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    Randall Saito pleaded not guilty to the charge of felony escape via video Tuesday from Oahu Community Correctional Center. Before the arraignment began, Saito sat inside the correctional facility’s mixed-use room, which is used for arraignment hearings.

Hawaii State Hospital escapee Randall Saito pleaded not guilty to a felony escape charge at his arraignment Tuesday.

Clad in a dark green prison uniform and black slippers, Saito, 59, appeared before Circuit Judge Colette Garibaldi via closed-circuit video link from the Oahu Community Correctional Center. Attorney Michael Green, who made a special appearance on Saito’s behalf, entered a not-guilty plea.

Saito was charged in his elaborate escape to California from the State Hospital in November. Deputy sheriffs captured him Nov. 15 in Stockton, Calif., three days after he walked off hospital grounds.

Saito did not speak during the arraignment. Garibaldi set his trial to be held during the week of March 18.

On Thursday the state had filed a motion for a bail increase and/or to require bail be posted in cash only and/or deny bail. During the arraignment, Green, who spoke with Saito’s relatives, said, “His family has no intention of posting bail.”

Garibaldi granted the state’s motion that only cash will be accepted to post Saito’s $500,000 bail.

Before the arraignment began, Saito sat at a table inside the correctional facility’s mixed-use room, where he at times folded his arms and anxiously shook his right leg and foot. The mixed-use room is used for arraignment hearings.

If convicted of felony escape, he will serve the maximum five-year prison term. Thereafter, he will be brought back to the State Hospital.

Saito fled the hospital on the morning of Nov. 12. Surveillance video footage showed him taping the locks of double doors in a lounge area of a building at about 8:30 a.m.

Footage also showed how he then walked to a separate building and retrieved a garbage bag filled with clothes from a combination-locked cabinet. At about 10:03 a.m. surveillance video showed Saito walking off hospital grounds after he opened a four-digit combination-locked gate that leads to Windward Community College.

From Kaneohe District Park he took a taxi to the airport and boarded a charter flight to Maui. Court records indicated he paid $1,455.35 in cash for the charter. Saito then boarded a commercial flight to San Jose, Calif.

A hospital staff employee discovered him missing at about 7:36 p.m. that night, more than nine hours after he walked off hospital grounds.

When deputy sheriffs in Stockton arrested Saito, they found over $6,000 in cash, two fake driver’s licenses and two cellphones in his possession.

Federal marshals extradited Saito to Hawaii on Wednesday.

Criminal and administrative investigations into his escape are pending.

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