CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shaun Rodrigues was hugged by his mother in court yesterday before being led away by sheriffs.
Manoa burglar to serve 20 years
Emotions erupt as Shaun Rodrigues is taken to prison
Family members of convicted home-invasion robber Shaun C. Rodrigues lashed out at prosecutors after he was ordered to start serving his 20-year prison term yesterday.
"You wrong, buddy. You wrong. You get bad luck, brah. I curse you," shouted Rodrigues' father, Jerry, as he stood and pointed his finger at Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara after the hearing. He also shouted a racial slur at Uehara.
Shaun Rodrigues, who has insisted he is innocent, cried and hugged his family before two sheriffs led him out of the courtroom in Circuit Court. He was to be sent to Halawa Correctional Facility to start serving his prison term.
In March 2002, Rodrigues was convicted of breaking into the Manoa home of Dianne Sugihara and her daughter, Dawn, tying them up and robbing them. The robbery occurred on July 8, 2000.
He was charged with first-degree burglary, which is considered a Class B felony, two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of kidnapping, both considered Class A felonies.
Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall sentenced Rodrigues on Sept. 10, 2004, to a maximum of 20 years for the Manoa robbery. At his sentencing, Crandall granted Rodrigues' request to remain out on bail pending the outcome of his appeal.
On Dec. 7 the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld Rodrigues' conviction, affirming Crandall's decision not to reopen the trial. The defense had argued that there had been insufficient evidence to convict.
After the hearing, Rodrigues' younger brother, Royce, hugged his brother tightly and cried, "We're going to keep fighting this."
Comforted by family and friends, Rodrigues' wife, Chasadie, bowed her head down and wailed after her husband was escorted out of the courtroom. Rodrigues, 26, and his wife have a 2-year-old son, Christopher.
"It's really hard to see him go," Chasadie Rodrigues said as she sobbed during a phone interview after the hearing. "I didn't want to see him go."
Rodrigues' attorney, William Harrison, also expressed his outrage and disappointment.
"This is the darkest day of my legal life. I never had a client who's innocent go to jail," said Harrison of his 25-year career. "You read about it in the newspapers, but you don't believe it will ever happen here."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Rodrigues' father, Jerry Rodrigues, distraught about the order sending his son to prison, pointed and made remarks at Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara. Shaun Rodrigues continues to proclaim his innocence in a 2000 Manoa robbery.
"There are a lot of problems in the system, and this highlights one of them," Harrison said, noting the eyewitness identification procedure in Hawaii is outdated. "We believe the procedure they use clearly led to this kind of verdict."
Two days after the robbery, Dianne Sugihara and her daughter identified Rodrigues in two separate photographic lineups as the man who robbed them. He had earlier installed a security system in their home.
Harrison said he plans to file a motion in federal court as he continues the fight to free his client. "We're hopeful that we'll get some relief over there," he said.
Rodrigues maintained his innocence since the day of his arrest, contending he is a victim of mistaken identity. He and his family members say he was home sleeping at the time of the robbery.
"How unfair everything was," said Rodrigues' mother, Toni Kurihara, yesterday.
Ads paid for by a group called the Friends of Shaun Rodrigues that were published in three city newspapers last month proclaiming his innocence generated some leads that Harrison is looking into, according to the attorney.
Uehara said, "The victims, Dianne and Dawn Sugihara, are both intelligent, educated and honest people. They would not have convicted the wrong person."
He was positively identified as the home invader in three separate proceedings, Uehara said. "The evidence in this case was overwhelming," he added.
Uehara said he informed Dianne Sugihara and her daughter yesterday that Rodrigues was sent to prison.
"Both said they were pleased that there was some closure to the case," he said, noting that they declined to be interviewed by the media.
Uehara said he will file a response with federal court when Harrison files the petition. "We anticipate to prevail in that proceeding."