Hawaii rape, beating suspect is released mental patient
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
A man accused of beating and raping a Mililani restaurant owner Thursday night had been committed to the Hawai'i State Hospital last year for treatment of chronic mental illness and was judged by one expert to pose "moderate to high risk of danger" to others if he was released, according to court records.
Joseph K. Navas, 44, has been sent to the hospital at least eight times for treatment of schizophrenia and long-term abuse of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, psychiatric assessments said.
Janice Okubo, of the state Health Department, said medical confidentiality laws prevented her or hospital officials from discussing Navas' case or the reasons why he was no longer held at the hospital.
Navas is now charged with beating and raping a 47-year-old woman at her Kīpapa Drive restaurant. She escaped from Navas after the assault and called police, who found Navas still inside the restaurant, according to police reports. He is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Navas has been convicted of six felonies and 25 misdemeanor crimes, including auto theft, drug offenses, third-degree assault, terroristic threatening, trespass and criminal property damage.
When he was discharged from the state hospital in March 2006, Navas refused to accept services from an outpatient program. He was arrested by Honolulu police seven months later, on Oct. 6, 2006, on a charge of burglarizing a Wahiawā apartment.
That burglary charge was pending until February of last year while Navas' mental fitness to stand trial was repeatedly reviewed by psychiatrists and psychologists, court records show.
Those experts uniformly reported that Navas was psychotic and Circuit Judge Michael Wilson dismissed the burglary charge on Feb. 11, 2009, ordering that Navas be involuntarily committed to the state hospital.
Jim Fulton, executive assistant in the prosecutor's office, said prosecutors "strenuously objected" to the dismissal of the burglary charge.
Okubo said patients who have been involuntarily committed to the hospital via a civil court order can be discharged at the discretion of medical professionals and are usually referred to community-based mental health treatment programs.
She said she could not discuss why or when Navas was released from the hospital, or where he went.
Okubo said prosecutors are notified in advance of such a release and have the opportunity to file legal objections with the court system.
Fulton said he was researching prosecutor's records to find such a notice and any legal paperwork that was filed in response.
The most recent mental health assessments of Navas filed in his 2006 criminal case present differing pictures of his condition and the risk he might pose to the public if released from the hospital.
In an Oct. 17, 2008, report, Dr. Leonard Jacobs, a psychiatrist, said of Navas: "His risk for harm to self, others and property if discharged is moderate to high unless he can be placed in a highly structured, closely supervised 24-hour facility with wrap-around services."
Clinical psychologist Dr. Craig Robinson said in a Nov. 5, 2008, report that a hospital risk assessment team found that Navas presented "a moderate risk of threatening others but a low-to-moderate risk of instigating physical violence."
Robinson said that when a "master treatment plan" was developed for Navas, "he in fact could be transferred to a less restrictive setting with minimal risk of danger to himself or others,"
And psychological consultant Dr. Olaf Gitter said Nov. 12, 2008, "I do believe that Mr. Navas, indeed, presents a mild to moderate risk of danger to the person of others."
Hospital assessments said Navas was a "low risk" for violence inside the facility "but might present a moderate risk for violence in the community," Gitter wrote.
In the rape case, the victim told police that a man she later identified as Navas entered her restaurant through a back door about midnight, slapped her so hard that one of her teeth was knocked out, then gagged her with a towel to stop her from screaming.
Police officer Roel Gausman said in an affidavit that when he arrived at the restaurant, he found Navas inside, wearing only a "darkcolored men's dress jacket."
Navas was holding a plastic bag in each hand, Gausman said.
Navas said, "I only took food," the officer reported.