Wednesday, July 21, 1999

Imprisoned killer gets
life for 1990 slaying

By Debra Barayuga


A Waianae man already serving time for manslaughter was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in a drug-related slaying nine years ago.

Circuit Judge Wendell Huddy yesterday also ordered Wallace "Dido" Rodrigues, 34, to serve a mandatory minimum of 20 years before he can seek parole because a firearm was used.

He also was ordered to pay $2,000 restitution to the victim's family.

Defense attorney Pam Tower declined comment but said she intends to appeal the court's ruling.

Rodrigues' family members gasped when the sentence was announced. A woman, identified as Rodrigues' mother, ran out of the courtroom and collapsed outside.

"My baby is innocent, my baby is innocent," she cried as family members attempted to soothe her. She was later carried away by paramedics.

A jury in May found Rodrigues guilty in the February 1990 murder of Leo Tuaoa, an alleged drug dealer in what prosecutors called a gangland-style slaying. Tuaoa was shot and his body found in the trunk of his burning car in Makaha.

The sentence was "long overdue," said Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter. "This defendant was convicted and sentenced for killing two people and he's pending trial in two more murders."

Rodrigues is serving a 10-year prison term for manslaughter in the 1995 killing of Wayne Pemberton. Pemberton was shot in the head and run over.

Police had long suspected Rodrigues in the murder of Lorenzo Young in 1988, Tuaoa in February 1990 and William "Willy" Lau in October 1990.

Police received new evidence last year linking Rodrigues to the slayings.

Young was found shot in the head in April 1988 in the front seat of a burning car.

Lau was a witness to the Tuaoa murder and was killed because he was talking, Van Marter said. Lau was found crushed to death under a car he was working on.

Van Marter said he will ask the Paroling Authority that Rodrigues serve the longest prison term possible for a convicted murderer.

In related matters, the court denied the defense's motion to set aside Rodrigues' guilty verdict for a new trial or an acquittal. But it found Van Marter violated a pretrial order requesting a list of the names of actual witnesses expected to take the stand.

Van Marter did not call all the witnesses on the list saying he felt the testimony provided by earlier witnesses were sufficient.

The court noted that the evidence against Rodrigues was overwhelming and while the prosecutor's failure to comply did not result in an unfair trial, Van Marter was ordered to pay $300 to the state's general fund.

Van Marter said it was the first time he had been sanctioned in his eight years in the city prosecutor's office.

While he respected the court's decision, "this is a blemish I'm not happy about."

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