CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shaun Rodrigues, right, and his lawyer, William Harrison, faced the parole board at his minimum-term hearing yesterday.
Burglary convict pleads for parole
A former alarm installer whose conviction for a July 2000 burglary at a Manoa home was affirmed by the state Supreme Court asked the Hawaii Paroling Authority to parole him immediately, maintaining that he was wrongly convicted.
"I feel sorry for the victims, but I'm not the person who did this to them," said Shaun Rodrigues, 25, his voice shaking and eyes red from crying.
Paroling Authority Chairman Albert Tufono acknowledged that they would be making one of the toughest decisions he's had to make in the two years he's served on the board, and that they needed to review the record thoroughly before setting a minimum term.
"This is your life that's on the line, and we take our jobs very seriously," he told Rodrigues.
Rodrigues was convicted of first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of kidnapping following a lengthy bench trial in which Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall ruled that the state had proved the charges "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara asked the board yesterday to impose a minimum term of 20 out of 20 years, not only because of the findings by the trial and appellate courts but because of Rodrigues' "utter lack of remorse."
Rodrigues had been convicted of threatening Dianne Sugihara and daughter Dawn with a gun, forcing them to lie face-down on the floor and tying them up with phone cords before searching the home.
"How can I show remorse for something I never do?" Rodrigues said.
Defense attorney William Harrison argued that Rodrigues was convicted on an "utter lack of evidence" and that the parole board should look at his client's background to see why he couldn't have done it.
The crime was out of character for Rodrigues, who has no prior criminal convictions, comes from a good family, was supported by his Hawaii National Guard command and former employers, has been working and has no substance abuse problems, Harrison said.
"You do not graduate and go and home-invade with a gun from the get-go," he argued. "It did not happen."
They maintain that the Sugiharas' identification of Rodrigues as the home invader was tainted because of the Honolulu Police Department's use of flawed photo lineup procedures that have been discarded by other jurisdictions.
In her findings and conclusions supporting Rodrigues' conviction, Crandall found that the Sugiharas' identification of Rodrigues was "sufficiently reliable" and that the procedures police used to conduct the photo lineup was not "impermissibly suggestive."
Crandall also found that considering the "compelling and credible testimony" by the Sugiharas, the testimony of Rodrigues' family members who claimed he was at home sleeping at the time of the robbery was not credible.
The Hawaii Supreme Court last December affirmed Rodrigues' conviction.