Hawaii State Hospital murder suspect pleads not guilty as new details of his past come to light

25-year old Tommy Carvalho has a history of mental illness and violence
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:01 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The man accused of killing his nurse at a group home on the Hawaii State Hospital grounds pleaded not guilty Monday in Honolulu Circuit Court.

Tommy Carvalho, 25, has a history of mental illness and violence, and his family had complained about his care by the state Health Department.

The struggle of his family and the allegations of murder evoke memories of a similar tragic case.

Carvalho is accused of stabbing 29-year-old Justin Bautista, who was working at his transitional housing on the hospital grounds a week ago.

Deputy Public Defender Edward Aquino spoke for Carvalho in court.

“At this time, we will waive public reading of the charges enter plea of not guilty and ask that the court set the matter for trial,” Aquino said.

Little has been released about the details of the crime.

Carvalho was allowed by a Kauai judge, based on reports of mental health experts, to move to a transitional group home at the hospital grounds where Bautista, a new father, was a nurse.

A hospital insider who knew Carvalho in the main hospital described him as a “25 y.o. big kid. Could get pushed into losing temper if teased, " the source told Hawaii News Now.

“But (he) responds well to calm tone of voice when we discharged him in late August.”

On Monday, Judge Ronald Johnson found him unfit for bail.

“He does pose a serious risk of danger to any person in the community,” Johnson said from the bench, as Carvalho frowned in apparent confusion. “This court believes that currently, there is no condition ... that will reasonably assure the appearance of the person or safety of the community.”

Two years ago, while he was fighting an assault charge, Cravalho’s family filed a GoFundMe page in hopes of getting him legal help and better health care than they felt the state was providing.

“Tommy Carvalho from a very young age has struggled with mental disabilities that he was born with that range from mild to severe. Autism, dyslexia and ADHD,” the family wrote.

“Under the care of the State of Hawaii, Tommy was mistreated, abused and misunderstood.”

The family’s struggle had echoes of a murder case from 2006, when Adam Mau Goffredo killed three people at Tantalus after his family also tried to get him help for years.

“The family was never, shall I say, certain that Adam was getting the kind of treatment he needed,” said Mau’s attorney, Brook Hart.

Hart said he believed many of the same gaps remain in the mental health system.

Although his trial was set for January, it’s unclear how long it will take to decide Carvalho’s fate.

He will first be sent back to the Hawaii State Hospital to see if he is mentally fit to stand trial.

If he is, he’s likely to use his mental condition as a defense.