State briefs for January 17

Man who fled Hawaii psychiatric hospital pleads not guilty

HONOLULU — A lawyer for a man who walked out of a Hawaii psychiatric hospital and flew to California has pleaded not guilty on his behalf but acknowledged it’s obvious his client escaped.

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Attorney Michael Green on Tuesday entered the plea to an escape charge against Randall Saito.

Saito was caught in Stockton, California, in November, days after walking out of Hawaii State Hospital. He was sent there after being acquitted by reason of insanity in a woman’s 1979 killing.

Green says it’s clear Saito escaped and it’s now a matter of working something out with prosecutors.

Prosecutors want to make sure Saito stays behind bars instead of going back to the hospital. Green says he and Saito’s family don’t plan to post bail.

Kauai officials mull bus stop rules to prevent overnight use

LIHUE, Kauai — Kauai County officials proposed new rules at bus stops to stop people from using them as overnight shelters.

The proposal called for a ban on erecting any structure within a bus stop or next to it. It also called for prohibiting anyone from occupying a bus stop “in a way that inhibits full use by the public,” in addition to closing stops between midnight and 4 a.m.

A person convicted of breaking these rules would be fined $100 or more, imprisoned for a period not exceeding 10 days, or both.

A public hearing on the issue took place on Friday, during which proposed rules were laid out, the Garden Island reported .

“This is the first time we’re actually going out to set up administrative rules,” said Celia Mahikoa, executive on transportation for Kauai County. “This has been prompted by the need to address individuals staying overnight within bus stops.”

One person in particular, El Aina DaNine, has been living at a county bus stop in Kapaa for more than a year. She eats and sleeps at the bus stop and keeps some of her things there. She lived on the beaches for a time before settling at the bus stop, which offers cover and some safety as it’s along the busy Kuhio Highway.

DaNine said if she’s forced to move, she will “inquire with the Holy Spirit, and maybe have prayer before the council meeting.”

In November, Kauai County told the Garden Island that it had met with DaNine multiple times.

“Officials and police officers have offered her assistance in relocating and referred her to seek help from various resource agencies. However, she has politely declined all offers,” county officials said. “We can understand the frustration from bus riders who frequent this stop, and the county is working on ways to prohibit loitering at bus stops when the bus is not in operation.”

Honolulu firefighters recover man’s body near large boulder

HONOLULU — Honolulu firefighters have recovered a body from a riverbed near Kaneohe.

Fire officials say the details remain unclear, but that the man was found on Monday near a large boulder.

Honolulu police say they are investigating the incident as an accident.

Authorities have not released the man’s name.

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KITV-TV reports that he might be a person who had been missing for a few weeks.

Hawaii News Now reports his body was found on private property.