Fingerprint fails to clear Manoa robber
A fingerprint lifted from a jewelry box in a Manoa home where a woman and her daughter were robbed at gunpoint in July 2000 did not match that of a robber convicted in another home invasion in Kailua, prosecutors say.
Shaun Rodrigues, 25, was convicted in the Manoa home invasion robbery of Dianne and Dawn Sugihara in March 2002. He began serving his 20-year sentence last month after the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld his conviction. He has maintained his innocence, and his defense has alleged that another convicted robber might be responsible.
Police investigators lifted a clear fingerprint from the jewelry box which did not belong to Rodrigues and has not been identified.
Prosecutors said they conducted the fingerprint analysis after inquiries by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and because of continuing comments by Rodrigues' defense attorney about the other convicted robber. The fingerprint did not match the Kailua robber, according to prosecutors.
"This is just to make sure that we are not accused of failing to follow up on leads, even though we have no reason to believe they were possible suspects in the Manoa case," said Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara.
The defense claimed that the Kailua robber, who is in a mainland prison, told them his co-defendant had approached him about burglarizing a Manoa home.
Trial judge Virginia Crandall had earlier found the inmate's statements "inadmissible" and vague, and denied Rodrigues' request to reopen the trial based on that evidence.
She found the Sugiharas' identification of Rodrigues as the robber as "compelling and credible" and testimony by Rodrigues' family members who said he was at home at the time as "incredible" considering their bias and demeanor.
While the print does not match the man they had identified as the robber, it could belong to an accomplice, defense attorney William Harrison said Thursday.
A witness had observed two men sitting on a wall across from the Sugihara home "casing the place" one week before the robbery, he said. "That print may not be the one who invaded (the home), but the person who may have assisted him."
Uehara said they have no reason to believe the Kailua robber or his co-defendant was involved in the Sugihara robbery.
The Sugiharas have viewed photos of the Kailua robbers, and both women said neither was the one who tied them up and robbed them at gunpoint, he said.
The state plans to run the fingerprint through the nationwide Automated Fingerprint Identification System to try and identify the owner, he said.