Judge sentences Pali killer to life in prison


POSTED: Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Rodney Joseph Jr. chose not to say anything yesterday before a federal judge sentenced him to life in prison for two murders and an attempted murder at the Pali Golf Course and other crimes.

The life sentence, his lawyer pointed out, is mandatory for murder. And in the federal prison system there is no release on parole.

A jury found Joseph, 40, and his cousin Ethan Motta guilty of murder earlier this year in the Jan. 7, 2004, shooting deaths of Lepo Taliese and Romelius Corpuz Jr. and the attempted murder of Tinoimalu Sao, who survived a gunshot wound to the face.

The jury also found Joseph guilty of operating an illegal gambling business, racketeering conspiracy, racketeering and assault in the aid of racketeering.

U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced Joseph to the maximum prison terms for the attempted murder, gambling, assault, conspiracy and racketeering charges. And even with the mandatory two life prison terms, all running at the same time, said she knows they are not long enough for the victims' families.

“;At this point there isn't anything more the law can provide,”; she said.

Taliese's sister Faletolu Lauti told Mollway she loves and forgives Joseph, but she said she cannot forget that he killed her brother and hopes he asks God for forgiveness.

In trial the government presented evidence that Joseph and Motta were involved in a violent struggle with other factions for control of illegal gambling operations on Oahu. The government said Joseph and Motta lured their victims to the golf course, where they and a third man, Kevin A. Gonsalves, shot them.

Mollway told Joseph his crimes were terrible.

“;You killed to regain control of the security portion of the illegal gambling business,”; she said.

She was supposed to also sentence Motta yesterday, but his hearing was postponed because he is getting a new lawyer.

Gonsalves pleaded guilty to racketeering last year and is serving a 27 1/2 -year federal prison term.