Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Trial opens in
’88 Makaha killing

By Debra Barayuga

Early on Easter Sunday 1988, 31-year-old Lorenzo Young was found dead in his burning car at the end of a dirt road in Makaha. He had been shot three times in the back of the head.

Police investigated and identified several suspects but did not have enough evidence to charge anyone.

The case was filed until police in November 1995 arrested a man who claimed he had information on Young's unsolved murder.

Thirteen years after Young's body was found, Wallace "Dido" Rodrigues, 36, formerly an amateur boxer, went on trial yesterday for second-degree murder in Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario's courtroom.

The defense contends Rodrigues was one of several suspects identified at the time, but he is not responsible for Young's slaying.

"The man, the men, the people who killed Lorenzo Young is not in the courtroom today," said defense attorney Howard Luke. "Dido Rodrigues did not kill Lorenzo Young."

Among the witnesses the state is expected to call is Samson Fernandez, who was arrested in September 1995 for an unrelated offense and claimed Rodrigues admitted to him earlier that year that he had killed Young.

During opening statements yesterday, Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said Rodrigues had grown so confident by 1995 that "he had beaten the system and got away with murder" that he bragged about it to his friends, describing the slaying in detail.

According to Fernandez, on April 2, 1988, Rodrigues, his brother Julio, Al Sequin and Young went to Waikiki. At 4:30 the next morning, Young dropped the rest at Sequin's Jade Street home.

At that point, Rodrigues had a plan to kill Young by rejoining him after everyone at Sequin's home fell asleep, according to Fernandez.

The two drove around for a while and ended up on a dirt road that ends in what residents call "the creek" -- between Maiuu Street and Kaulawaha Road. Young suspected nothing because he thought they were going to a secluded area to take drugs, Van Marter said.

As Young was reaching for a pipe and lighter, Rodrigues shot Young three times at point-blank range, "execution style," with a .22-caliber semiautomatic, Van Marter said.

A witness allegedly saw Rodrigues a few days earlier in possession of a firearm with a silencer.

Rodrigues then doused Young's car with gasoline before setting it afire, according to Fernandez. Residents who lived across "the creek" discovered the burning car with the body inside.

Fernandez was allowed to plead to lesser offenses and received sentencing considerations in exchange for his testimony at Rodrigues' trial.

Luke questioned Fernandez's credibility, describing him as a convicted felon who had been paroled earlier in 1995 after serving 1212 years in jail and had received "breaks" for cooperating with authorities.

Rodrigues admits to going out with Young the night before, but Young had dropped him, his brother and Sequin at Sequin's house the morning of April 3, Luke said.

At about 6:30 a.m. at least two people saw Young by the Cornet Store at Makaha Valley Road and Farrington Highway. One of them said he looked into Young's car and did not see anyone in the car with him, Luke said. Young was found dead in his burning car a half-hour later.

Rodrigues is currently serving a life term with parole for the murder of Leo Tuaoa in February 1990. The Hawaii Paroling Authority has ordered him to serve a minimum of 100 years before he can seek parole.

Rodrigues also pleaded guilty in October 1997 to manslaughter for the April 1995 death of Wayne Pemberton. He was given a 7 12-year minimum, which expires in November 2003.

The trial resumes today.

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