GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shaun Rodrigues, right, with wife Chasadie and their son Christopher at their Kailua home yesterday, is fighting a robbery conviction. The 25-year-old was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a Manoa Valley robbery.
Robber says ads helping fight conviction
The notices, paid by friends, are generating leads, says the man sentenced to 20 years
Ads published in three city newspapers claiming the innocence of a convicted robber have generated some leads in his case, an attorney who represents him said yesterday.
"We're following up on those leads," said attorney William Harrison, who represents Shaun Rodrigues, 25, who was sentenced to a maximum term of 20 years for a Manoa Valley robbery of five years ago.
The advertisements, paid for by a group called Friends of Shaun Rodrigues, were published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser earlier this week. They show photos of him and family members, and state that Rodrigues passed a lie detector test. They also say a detective with the Honolulu Police Department who investigated the case "swore in an affidavit there was insufficient proof" against him.
A prosecutor was critical of the ads, and said the victims continue to believe they correctly identified the person who robbed them at gunpoint in their home.
"He knows he has no legal recourse. This is a bold misrepresentation clearly intended to garner public sympathy," said Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara. "The facts were there. His family does not deserve public sympathy."
A Jan. 9 hearing is scheduled before Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall to hear the state's request to enforce her judgment made on Sept. 10, 2004, when Rodrigues was sentenced. Crandall convicted Rodrigues of breaking into the Manoa home of Dianne Sugihara and her daughter on July 8, 2000, tying them up and robbing them.
The Hawaii Supreme Court upheld Rodrigues' conviction two weeks ago.
Uehara said Rodrigues and his family refused to cooperate with the Honolulu Police Department and to take a lie detector test. Uehara also said a detective has never signed an affidavit stating there was insufficient evidence against Rodrigues.
Rodrigues told the Star-Bulletin yesterday that he and his family thought a polygraph test would have been "biased" if it had been conducted at the Honolulu Police Department.
"The atmosphere would throw everything off. They didn't feel comfortable with it," he said, adding that his defense hired a certified official to administer the polygraph test that he and his mother passed.
In the advertisements, Rodrigues continues to proclaim his innocence and that he is not the "Manoa robber."
"They have no evidence against me. Only two ladies, the victims, pointing out in a photographic lineup that 'That looks like the guy,'" he said.
The two victims declined comment.
"They do know, in their heart of hearts, that they did not identify the wrong person. No hesitation on their part whatsoever," Uehara said.
But Rodrigues and his mother said a fingerprint discovered at the home did not match his. "As far as I know, nobody has attempted to put a match to the fingerprint," he said.
Contemplating spending 20 years in prison is difficult, he said. "It's devastating just to even think about saying goodbye to my family, my wife and my son," Rodrigues said.
The advertisements, which were also published in MidWeek, asked for anyone with information on his case to call 523-7041, a phone number for his attorney. More than 20 calls were made from people with some information, he said.
One of the people who paid for the ad is a former employer.
"He doesn't have a bad bone in his body. We felt he was wrongly accused," said David Arita, who declined to say how much he contributed to the ads. He said he helped because he believes in Rodrigues' innocence.