Jail escapee says guards asleep

Inmate: We kicked in the termite-eaten door without waking guards, climbed fence and fled

Barret Paman

An inmate who escaped from the Maui Community Correctional Center said that jail guards were sleeping when he and another inmate kicked in a dormitory door and ran outside.

In an interview with police, Barret “BJ” Paman, 31, detailed how he and Troy Diego escaped from the dorm for community and minimum-custody inmates in the early-morning hours of April 14.

Paman waived his constitutional rights and spoke to police officers at about 3:30 p.m. that day, shortly after he turned himself in at the Wailuku Police Station.

“He voluntarily turned himself in as soon as he felt safe,” said Paman’s attorney, John Parker, who sat in on the interview with Paman and two police officers.

In a recording that Parker made of a portion of the interview, Paman said Diego woke him April 14 and said, “Come on, let’s go.”

Clothes can be seen hanging from the razor wire on a fence that state Department of Public Safety officials believe two inmates climbed over to escape April 14.

Paman said they walked to the control room in the dorm and could see through the glass that the adult corrections officers were sleeping inside. He and Diego pushed the bottom of the dormitory back door open, wedged a broom inside and pushed, Paman said. “The whole wood just wen’ bust,” he said.

After kicking the termite-eaten door open, Paman said he ran back to check if the officers were still sleeping. “They was still passed out cold, so then we went,” he said.

“The ACOs were asleep?” Parker asked.

“Yeah, passed out cold,” Paman said.

“Does this happen a lot?” Parker asked.

“Yeah,” Paman replied.

He said other inmates were still asleep when Paman and Diego left.

Once they were outside, he and Diego climbed a fence to get onto a roof, then ran to the women’s side of the jail, Paman said. He said they went to a fence by the graveyard and put clothes on the barbed wire at the top as they climbed over.

Paman said the two fled about 1 a.m., according to a clock he looked at near the control room.

The escape was discovered about 2:30 a.m. when staff noticed the broken door, and a head count confirmed the two men were missing, officials said.

Paman said he met Diego in jail and the two planned the escape in one day. No one else was involved, Paman said.

Paman, who has no prior criminal history, escaped because of fear over jail conditions that led to a riot March 11 in another module, Parker said.

Jail workers blamed the riot on the Department of Public Safety and the state, citing poor facilities, lack of manpower, incompetent leadership, insufficient riot training and growing inmate tension.

Although 170 guards are assigned to the jail, only around 116 are actively working, workers said.

Paman was being held at the jail after being arrested on charges of burglary, theft, carrying a firearm on a public highway and keeping a firearm in an improper place.

He and Diego, who turned himself in April 15 after being contacted by police, haven’t been charged with the escape, which remains under investigation.

Diego, 30, was being held on charges of theft and unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

“The escape is under administrative as well as criminal investigation which is normal procedure,” said Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz. “There is nothing more we can say about the ongoing investigation at this time.”

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.