Man Spends Two Years Institutionalized for Mistaken Identity

Man Spends Two Years Institutionalized for Mistaken Identity

( – On May 11, 2017, Joshua Spriestersbach fell asleep on the sidewalk outside of a homeless shelter while waiting for food. An officer woke him up from his nap, slapped cuffs on him and took him to jail — accusing him of being someone else. What happened next was a nightmare.

Spriestersbach spent the next two and a half years at the Hawaii State Hospital. He was committed after he repeatedly told authorities his name was not Thomas Castleberry. Not only did they not believe him, they thought he was delusional. He spent much of the time heavily drugged. After years of proclaiming they got the wrong guy, a psychiatrist finally listened.

That doctor hired an investigator who discovered police had, indeed, arrested and committed the wrong man. The real Castleberry was in an Alaskan prison at the time of his arrest.

Now the Hawaii Innocence Project is petitioning the court to have Spriestersbach’s record cleared. Lawyers blamed the judge, attorney general, police officers and everyone else connected to the case for the miscarriage of justice. Kenneth Lawson, one of the lawyers, said the victim told “everyone who he was” but nobody listened because they didn’t “[care] about a mentally ill man who was homeless.”

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