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Saturday, June 7, 2003



Escapee takes
responsibility
for his actions

Two others who fled Halawa
prison with David Scribner
are pleading not guilty


One of three Halawa escapees who led law enforcement on a week-long manhunt in April pleaded no contest yesterday in Circuit Court to second-degree escape and second-degree robbery.

David Scribner, 20, changed his plea because "he knew he was responsible for his own behavior and wanted to take responsibility," said his public defender, Adrienne Sanders.

The robbery charge stemmed from hijacking a car that he and his fellow escapees used to flee to Windward Oahu where they were eventually caught.

Scribner faces a maximum 30 years' imprisonment if the court gives him extended and consecutive terms. He is currently serving a 10-year term for a previous attempted escape from the Oahu Community Correctional Center and robbery and drug convictions.

He will be sentenced Aug. 14.

Scribner's fellow escapees, Albert Batalona and Warren Elicker, have pleaded not guilty and were set to go to trial later this month. But Circuit Judge Marie Milks, who will preside over the trial, granted the defense's request to continue the trial to Oct. 1 because of the amount of discovery in the case.

Yesterday in a separate hearing, Milks also denied Batalona's request to hold his trial either on the mainland or the neighbor islands.

Batalona's attorney, Nelson Goo, argued that his client cannot receive a fair trial because of what he called "pervasive and cumulative" publicity surrounding the escape and Batalona's prior conviction.

He said Batalona's previous arrest and conviction for attempting to kill a police officer during the 1999 armed takeover of the American Savings Bank in Kahala has received much media coverage, as did the escape.

Calls from the public to local radio talk shows have been particularly inflammatory and show that people have already made up their minds that Batalona and his co-defendants are guilty, Goo said.

Although Batalona has communicated with reporters, specifically the Star-Bulletin via a letter, it was without Goo's knowledge and against his advice, the attorney said.

Elicker's attorney, Winston Ling, joined in Batalona's arguments.

Deputy Prosecutor Jean Ireton, who prosecuted Batalona for attempted murder in the bank robbery trial, opposed the defense request, saying their concerns were based on speculation. She said they were able to get a fair and impartial jury in Batalona's bank robbery trial.

In denying the defense's request, Milks said their concerns can be resolved during jury selection by individually questioning jurors about what they know about the case from the media and whether they can set aside any opinions and decide the case based only on evidence presented at trial.

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