HONOLULU — Hawaii officials wrongly arrested a homeless man for a criminal offense dedicated by an individual else, locked him up in a point out hospital for far more than two a long time, pressured him to consider psychiatric prescription drugs and then tried to address up the error by quietly placing him free of charge with just 50 cents to his title, the Hawaii Innocence Challenge stated in a court docket doc asking a choose to established the record straight.

A petition submitted in courtroom Monday evening asks a judge to vacate the arrest and appropriate Joshua Spriestersbach’s information. The filing lays out his weird plight that begun with him slipping asleep on a sidewalk. He was houseless and hungry even though waiting in a extensive line for food outdoors a Honolulu shelter on a hot day in 2017.

When a law enforcement officer roused him awake, he considered he was currently being arrested for the city’s ban on sitting down or laying down on community sidewalks.

But what he didn’t know was that the officer mistook him for a male named Thomas Castleberry, who experienced a warrant out for his arrest for violating probation in a 2006 drug circumstance.

It is unclear how this happened as Spriestersbach and Castleberry experienced in no way achieved. Spriestersbach in some way finished up with Castleberry as his alias, even though Spriestersbach never claimed to be Castleberry, in accordance to the Hawaii Innocence Undertaking.

Spriestersbach’s attorneys argue it all could have been cleared up if police just as opposed the two men’s photos and fingerprints.

As an alternative, in opposition to Spriestersbach’s protests that he wasn’t Castleberry, he was eventually fully commited to the Hawaii State Hospital.

“Yet, the additional Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr. Castleberry, the additional he was declared delusional and psychotic by the H.S.H. staff members and health professionals and heavily medicated,” the petition reported. “It was understandable that Mr. Spriestersbach was in an agitated condition when he was staying wrongfully incarcerated for Mr. Castleberry’s crime and regardless of his continual denial of staying Mr. Castleberry and furnishing all of his pertinent identification and areas where he was located through Mr. Castleberry’s court docket appearances, no one particular would consider him or take any significant ways to validate his identity and determine that what Mr. Spriestersbach was telling the real truth — he was not Mr. Castleberry.”

No 1 considered him — not even his many general public defenders — till a clinic psychiatrist at last listened.

All it took were being simple Google queries and a handful of mobile phone calls to validate that Spriestersbach was on a different island when Castleberry was initially arrested, according to the court docket doc.

The psychiatrist asked a detective to come to the hospital, who verified fingerprints and images to ascertain the wrong male had been arrested and Spriestersbach invested two yrs and eight months institutionalized, the petition explained, noting that it was not challenging to establish the the serious Castleberry has been incarcerated in an Alaska jail since 2016.

In accordance to data, a 49-yr-aged guy named Thomas R. Castleberry is in the Spring Creek Correctional Facility in Seward, Alaska. His relations couldn’t be achieved for remark. The Alaska general public defender shown for him declined to comment Tuesday.

The Hawaii Innocence Job doc also claims Spriestersbach experienced ineffective counsel: the Hawaii community defender’s workplace.

Law enforcement, the point out public defender’s business, the point out legal professional typical and the clinic “share in the blame for this gross miscarriage of justice,” the petition reported.

Hawaii General public Defender James Tabe and spokespersons for the condition lawyer general’s and health and fitness department didn’t promptly return messages in search of remark Tuesday.

After the fingerprints and images ended up finalized, officials moved speedily, but secretly, to release Spriestersbach in January 2020, the petition stated.

“A magic formula assembly was held with all of the parties, other than Mr. Spriestersbach, present. There is no court docket record of this meeting or no public court docket history of this meeting. No entry or order displays this miscarriage of justice that transpired or a acquiring that Mr. Spriestersbach is not Thomas Castleberry,” the courtroom document stated.

His attorneys feel officials didn’t imagine anybody would believe Spriestersbach or no a single would care about the homeless guy who fell asleep ready for foods, only to wake up to a dwelling nightmare.

Spriestersbach, 50, who lives with his sister in Vermont, declined to remark for this story.

His sister, Vedanta Griffith, used almost 16 a long time hunting for him. He moved to Hawaii with Griffith when her partner was stationed on Oahu with the Army in 2003. He moved to the Major Island and then disappeared, though struggling mental well being concerns, she reported.

“Part of what they employed towards him was his personal argument: ‘I’m not Thomas Castleberry. I did not dedicate these crimes. … This isn’t me,’” she told The Related Push. “So they employed that as indicating he was delusional, as justification for keeping him.”

Soon after his release, he finished up at a homeless shelter, which contacted his loved ones.

“And then when gentle is proven on it, what do they do? They don’t even set it on the document. They really do not make it aspect of the case,” Griffith mentioned. “And then they really don’t come to him and say, ‘We are so sorry’ or, how about even ‘Gee, this was not you. You had been ideal all along.’”

Spriestersbach now refuses to go away his sister’s 10-acre assets.

“He’s so worried that they’re going to take him once again,” Griffith said.


AP journalist Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, contributed to this report.