Halawa prison warden
Espinda transferred
following escape

No evidence of aid to escapees

By Mary Adamski

Halawa Correctional Facility warden Nolan Espinda has been transferred to another position in the state Department of Public Safety administrative office.

Espinda, a 20-year department veteran, was notified of the reassignment Friday, the day after the capture of three inmates whose April 4 escape was the first from the Halawa high-security facility.

Russell Pang, spokesman for Gov. Linda Lingle, said yesterday the transfer is "pursuant to the investigation" of the escape by Albert Batalona, Warren Elicker and David Scribner from their cellblock.

Asked if the warden's reassignment is linked to the escape, interim Public Safety Director James Propotnick said: "We are putting him where we can make better use of him. He will be assisting Corrections Administrator Ed Shimoda in an office that is overrun with work." Propotnick said an internal investigation is under way into the escape, and "it would not be fair to do anything until it is completed.

"Nolan does not deserve any bad raps," Propotnick said. "These changes are made because it is in best interest of everybody at this time to better utilize people."

Espinda was acting warden at Oahu Community Correctional Center when he was named Halawa warden in May 1999. He is on vacation this week. His pay will not be affected by the transfer, Propotnick said.

His replacement as at the Halawa high-security and medium-security facility will be Clayton Frank, OCCC warden for the past four years and also a 20-year veteran in the department. His appointment is effective Monday. "Clayton is well qualified and certainly able to take over," said Propotnick.

Deputy Halawa warden Randy Asher is serving as acting warden at the Halawa prison. Francis Sequeira, currently deputy warden at OCCC, will take over as temporary warden there.

The three prisoners escaped from a special-needs facility that houses 162 inmates serving long prison terms. Police said Elicker and Scribner, who shared a cell, and Batalona, in the adjacent cell, scraped through a plumbing wall with metal objects and lowered themselves following plumbing lines to a ground-level service room. They also scaled a 16-foot fence topped with razor wire in the early-morning escape. They were missing at a 4 a.m. head count.

Propotnick earlier described the escape as "well planned and well orchestrated."

Propotnick, a retired deputy U.S. marshal, was appointed interim director in January by Lingle. The governor has named veteran federal prosecutor John Peyton to head the Public Safety Department. He is expected to take the state position in May.


No evidence found of
anyone aiding escapees

By Nelson Daranciang

Police have not found evidence that three state prison escapees who eluded police in the mountains above Hauula for seven days received assistance from other people.

Police said they also have been unable to confirm some of the escapees' statements about how they survived: Nobody helped them; they survived on beef jerky they brought from prison, plus fruit and water; and they brought with them from prison the clothes police found in a white trash bag at a campsite off the Hauula Loop Trail.

Police released Friday without charges the man who was driving the pickup truck in which escapee Warren Elicker was caught. The 25-year-old man was arrested under suspicion of hindering prosecution but was released because prosecutors told police they did not have enough evidence, said Lt. Bill Kato, who was in charge of the Honolulu Police Department's search for the escapees.

Investigators from the state Department of the Attorney General, state deputy sheriffs and enforcement officers of the state Department of Land & Natural Resources also participated in the search for Elicker, 25, Albert Batalona, 27, and David Scribner, 20, who escaped from the high-security prison at Halawa Correctional Facility on April 4.

Police said they were surprised at how well the escapees looked when they were captured Thursday.

The three told police they found clothing in an abandoned cabin deep in a valley in the back of Hauula, police said. Police have not been able to confirm that.

Inmates do not keep civilian clothes or food in their cells, said James Propotnick, interim state public safety director.

Police also found a notebook containing references about the escape in the trash bag. The bag was found in a spot where a pig hunter encountered the fugitives two days after their escape.

On the day the escapees were captured, Batalona had enough money for bus fare, and Elicker had money to make a telephone call, police said. Prison inmates are not allowed to have money.

However, they could have found the money inside the car they are believed to have hijacked at Stadium Mall the morning of their escape, Kato said.

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