Richard Leibman to undergo more fitness tests

LIHUE — A Kauai judge denied a motion that would deem the fitness of the man known as the “Jesus Bandit” unrestorable.

Richard Leibman, 37, was due to appear before Judge Kathleen Watanabe Tuesday on burglary, assault on an officer and escape charges via a video conference from the Hawaii State Hospital, but he did not show up. His attorney, Kai Lawrence, was in court on his behalf.

Leibman, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and a personality disorder, has been found unfit to proceed to trial at least twice and has refused treatment.

On Tuesday, Watanabe, Lawrence, and George White, deputy prosecuting attorney, discussed a motion filed by the defense that would rule Leibman would never be fit to proceed with trial.

“There was ample time to determine if he’s restorable. He’s been at the Hawaii State Hospital for a year and a half. Either he is, or he isn’t,” Lawrence said. “Doing the same tests over and over again aren’t going to get us anywhere.”

In June, doctors with HSH were given 90 days to determine if his mental fitness could be restored. Lawrence said the results were mixed.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, White said he opposed the motion, arguing further examination, particularly to determine Leibman’s dangerousness and restorability, was needed.

“And Leibman isn’t doing anything to make the proceedings go faster,” he said.

Watanabe agreed with the state’s arguments.

“The court isn’t in the position to wave a wand and deem someone unrestorable; I’m not qualified to do that,” she said. “The next step seems to be re-examination.”

In March 2014, Leibman was arrested on a Princeville golf course and charged with second-degree criminal trespassing and third-degree assault.

About two years later, he escaped through an unlocked door at HSH and was later found on the beach fronting an Oahu hotel after a brief foot chase.

Watanabe ordered Leibman undergo another three-panel examination.

Leibman will be back in court Feb. 8 for a review hearing.


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