Apr 26, 11:47 AM EDT

A court hearing is scheduled on whether a man is mentally fit to proceed with trial for escaping from a Hawaii psychiatric hospital and flying to California


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HONOLULU (AP) -- A court hearing is scheduled Thursday on whether a man is mentally fit to proceed with trial for escaping from a Hawaii psychiatric hospital and flying to California.

Randall Saito was confined to the hospital after he was acquitted by reason of insanity of a woman's 1979 killing. A judge ordered that he go before a panel of examiners to determine whether he can be criminally responsible for the escape.

Saito was captured in Stockton, California, in November, days after walking out of Hawaii State Hospital. Saito plotted his escape with a banned cellphone, prosecutors have said in court documents.

After walking out of the hospital, he called a taxi that took him to the airport, where he caught a chartered flight to Maui. He used an alias to arrange the flight and paid $1,445 cash for it, prosecutors said. He then took a commercial flight to San Jose, California.

When he was arrested in nearby Stockton three days after his escape, he had more than $6,000 in cash and fake Washington state and Illinois driver's licenses bearing his photos with different names, prosecutors said. The fake licenses contained convincing-looking holograms that are difficult to reproduce.

Officials are still investigating the escape, including where he got the money and other supplies.

Defense attorney Michael Green said Wednesday that he expects the panel will find that Saito understands the escape charge and is mentally competent to proceed. Saito "will eventually admit to the elopement," Green said.

While jailed near Stockton after his capture, Saito gave various interviews with reporters, including from The Associated Press. He said he escaped to show that he should be free.

Saito would rather remain in a Honolulu jail where he's being held on $500,000 instead of return to the hospital, Green said: "He's happy where he is right now."

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