Homeless man acquitted of assault by reason of insanity

Struggle at Kahului restaurant led to man biting off tip of security guard’s finger

Alex Hand

The Maui News

WAILUKU — A homeless man who allegedly bit off the tip of a security guard’s finger was committed to the Hawaii State Hospital and acquitted by reason of insanity Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court.

Alex Hand, 31, was charged with first-degree assault for the incident that occurred at about 9 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2017 at the Wendy’s restaurant at Maui Mall. A status hearing was set for July 11.

On the night of the incident, the security guard received a call from the Wendy’s manager, reporting an intoxicated man was refusing to leave the restaurant.

The female security guard was shoving Hand out the door when he lunged at her and punched her in the head, according to testimony at his preliminary hearing last year. The security guard said she put her hands up to avoid being hit again when Hand bit off the tip of her left ring finger.

According to court records, proceedings were suspended March 22, 2017 while Hand underwent mental fitness examinations. On Nov. 1 of that year, he was committed to the state hospital on Oahu. After a psychiatrist there reported Hand had behaved dangerously and wasn’t likely to improve or stabilize without treatment, the court ordered treatment over the patient’s objection. In December, it was reported that Hand was doing well since taking his medication.

Hand pled no contest to his charge after a judge found him mentally fit to proceed in his case earlier this year. He withdrew his plea last month, however, and asked to be sent to the state hospital.

Judge Peter Cahill said he was satisfied that the assault charge had been proven by prosecutors, but also that the defense established Hand was insane. Cahill said all three examining physicians found “to a reasonable degree of medical probability that Hand’s cognitive and volitional capacities were substantially impaired by a mental disorder” on the night of the offense.

Examiners somewhat differed on their diagnosis of Hand, but they noted that he “clearly has a long history of mental disorders,” Cahill said. Among the disorders were schizophrenia and paranoia.