High court upholds robbery conviction
The Hawaii Supreme Court has upheld the March 2002 conviction of Shaun C. Rodrigues, who was found guilty of tying up two women in their Manoa home at gunpoint and robbing them.
In a three-page order issued yesterday, the five justices found that there was sufficient evidence to support the former alarm installer's conviction based on the identification of the witnesses.
They also found that the evidence as a whole "was sufficient to support the conviction when viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution."
Rodrigues, of Kailua, and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
Deputy prosecutor Russell Uehara, who prosecuted the case, said he was happy for the Sugihara family, who continue to suffer from their experience.
"The victims were intelligent, educated women and were sure they did not identify the wrong person," Uehara said. "At least with this affirmation of the defendant's conviction, there's some closure for the family."
Dianne Sugihara and her daughter Dawn were held at gunpoint on July 8, 2000, in their Manoa home by a gunman,* who also threatened to cut off the mother's wedding ring when she balked at giving it up. They both separately identified Rodrigues as the robber in a photo lineup just days later and at subsequent court proceedings.
Rodrigues, who had visited the Sugihara home twice as an alarm installer, maintained his innocence, claiming he was the victim of mistaken identity. He and family members maintain he was at home sleeping at the time of the robbery.
Rodrigues, a specialist in the Hawaii National Guard at the time, underwent a jury-waived trial, choosing to have a judge preside. Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall found Rodrigues guilty of five felonies, including first-degree robbery, in March 2002.
After a series of delays that nearly resulted in his deployment to Iraq before he could be sentenced, Crandall sentenced the 24-year-old Rodrigues on Sept. 10, 2004, to maximum 20-year terms on four of the five felonies, but she allowed him to remain free on $75,000 bail pending his appeal. Rodrigues later resigned from the National Guard.
The defense appealed the conviction, arguing that the trial court's findings were based on unreliable identification by the Sugiharas, that the evidence as a whole was insufficient to find him guilty and that it was plausible another man had committed the crime.
In their decision, the justices agreed that the trial court was correct in denying Rodrigues' request to reopen the trial "where the evidence submitted did not meet the standard of being relevant, admissible, technically adequate, and helpful" to the court in determining a defendant's guilt or innocence.
Uehara said yesterday he will prepare a motion asking the court to set aside its earlier order staying Rodrigues' sentence and have him committed to Halawa forthwith.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
» Shaun C. Rodrigues was not wearing a mask when he robbed a Manoa woman and her daughter in their home. A Page A3 article Thursday incorrectly said he was wearing a mask during the crime.