Friday, May 7, 1999

Murder planned,
jury told

By Lori Tighe


Prosecutors have pointed to a blue tarp to show Wallace "Dido" Rodrigues planned to murder a man.

The state argued the killing was a gangland-style murder in which Rodrigues helped gun down Leo Tuaoa -- who fell onto a blue tarp spread before him. Tuaoa was rolled up in it, then shoved in a trunk and found in a burning car near Makaha Beach Park.

Rodrigues, now 34 of Waianae, is charged with murdering Tuaoa on the morning of Feb. 23, 1990, in a drug dispute. The jury in his trial began deliberating yesterday afternoon.

The defense said the killing was a surprise explosion between another man and Tuaoa. The eyewitnesses, who said Rodrigues helped in the murder, had all cut deals to reduce their jail sentences, said Pamela O'Leary Tower, lawyer for Rodrigues.

If the killing wasn't planned, why did they bother spreading a blue tarp in front of Tuaoa beforehand, argued Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter.

"It's only because they have him (Tuaoa) they are able to make such a life-threatening decision," he said. "Leo had no chance in that room."

Glenn J. "Lionel" Sequin Sr. admitted some years ago to killing Tuaoa, an alleged drug dealer, in exchange for manslaughter charges.

In his original confession, Sequin said Tuaoa had a gun and a struggle ensued.

Two different types of bullets were found at the crime scene, proving two different guns were used, Van Marter said. Most of the witnesses said Tuaoa was unarmed, while Rodrigues had a gun that resembled an Uzi.

"Lionel began the sequence of events. The defendant voluntarily joined in and helped Lionel Sequin kill Tuaoa," Van Marter said.

Tower said there were conflicts in witnesses' testimony as to who saw what and where everyone stood in the room. One witness said he saw Rodrigues with a "really big 2-foot gun," Tower said. Another witness said he saw no gun on Rodrigues.

The physical evidence of the shooting also suggested Sequin worked alone, Tower said.

The evidence proves Sequin shot the first three shots as Tuaoa was trying to rise from his seat. Sequin put the final bullet in Tuaoa's brain to finish him off, she said.

"That is a reasonable doubt when the physical evidence doesn't match the testimony obtained under duress. Which are you going to believe?" Tower asked the jury. She answered for them, "The physical evidence."

But Van Marter said despite Sequin's past confession stating Tuaoa had a gun and a struggle ensued, "This was not manslaughter."

"A blue tarp doesn't come out for manslaughter," he said.

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