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Sentencing scheduled for Hale Nani escapee

A 40-year-old Mountain View woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to escaping from a minimum security jail, two counts of felony theft and another of attempted felony theft.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura scheduled sentencing for Mary Hamilton, also known as Mary Lolita Santos, for 8 a.m. June 13.

Hamilton escaped Jan. 13 from Hale Nani Correctional Facility off Highway 11 on the southern outskirts of Hilo. Asked by the judge how she escaped, Hamilton replied, “I climbed the fence. I jumped down, and I ran.”

According to police, Hamilton ran along Highway 11 and into the Puna-bound traffic lanes, where she stopped a blue van and jumped into the passenger side window. State correctional officers were able to prevent the van from leaving until they took Hamilton back into custody. The van then left the area.

Hale Nani is a facility without walls that reintegrates inmates with little time remaining on their sentences back into the community. Seven Hale Nani inmates have escaped in the past two years; all have been recaptured.

Hamilton also pleaded guilty to three shoplifting incidents, all above the $300 threshold for felony theft.

According to police, Hamilton took a television worth $612.28 from the Hilo Walmart store Nov. 29, 2012, and computer tablets and diapers from Walgreen’s valued at $803.91 on Nov. 13, 2013.

She also attempted to steal $428.83 of perishable and non-perishable items from Safeway on May 19, 2013.

Hamilton’s guilty pleas were part of a deal with prosecutors, who agreed in return not to prosecute a bail jumping charge. All four charges carry a possible five-year prison sentence, but Hamilton is eligible for probation and drug court.

She’s free pending sentencing on $19,000 bail.

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