Shaun Rodrigues wept in court yesterday as his mother, Antoinette Kurihara, made a statement to Judge Virginia Crandall.

Jail term for
invasion robbery
is put on hold

Shaun Rodrigues will remain free
pending an appeal of his case

A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a Manoa home invasion in July 2000 but will be allowed to remain free pending appeal.

Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall granted a defense motion yesterday to stay the sentence for Shaun Rodrigues of Kailua while he appeals his conviction on several issues, including flawed eyewitness identification by the victims.

In allowing Rodrigues to remain free, Crandall ruled that he was not likely to flee and was unlikely to pose a danger to the community.

Earlier, she had rejected the defense's request to reopen the case to present information allegedly implicating another man. Crandall ruled the man's statement "vague" and not admissible.

Rodrigues continues to maintain his innocence.

While the sentencing capped a case that has been delayed numerous times since Crandall found Rodrigues guilty 2 1/2 years ago, it still does not bring closure to the victims or the defendant, defense and prosecution attorneys said yesterday.

Shaun Rodrigues, right foreground, was hugged by friends who had come to support him at yesterday's sentencing.

"He's still out on bail," said Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara, who opposed Rodrigues' remaining free until his appeal, which could take as long as a year or more to be resolved.

"He still poses a danger to the community. They're dangerous offenses, and he got convicted of these dangerous offenses. So for the judge to say he does not pose a danger to the community despite being convicted of these dangerous offenses, to me does not make sense," Uehara said.

While disappointed in Crandall's decision, the prosecution is confident Rodrigues' conviction will be upheld by the appellate courts, Uehara said.

William Harrison, Rodrigues' attorney, said the court's decision was appropriate because there is no evidence to suggest Rodrigues is a danger or a flight risk.

"Clearly, we believe he did not commit the offense, and we're going to prove that ultimately," Harrison said. "The court's basically given us the breathing room to have a higher court review this matter to determine if, in fact, he committed the offense."

Rodrigues was convicted of first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree robbery and kidnapping for breaking into the home of Dianne and Dawn Sugihara, tying them up and robbing them at gunpoint.

Neither mother nor daughter was present at the sentencing. While they will likely be disappointed that Rodrigues will remain free, Uehara said, they simply want to forget everything that has happened and go on with their lives.

A teary-eyed Rodrigues, surrounded by family and friends, left the courthouse declining comment after sentencing.

Harrison said his client was obviously relieved that he did not have to go to prison pending his appeal. "But you don't feel that good because you've been convicted by this court and sentenced by this court, and you've been told you committed an offense you didn't commit."

During the hearing, Rodrigues did not address the judge.

But his mother, employer, uncle and brother gave emotional testimony, insisting he is not the person the prosecution has made him out to be. They said he does not use drugs, is hard-working, responsible, easygoing and well mannered. They contend he could not have committed such a crime because of his upbringing and the way he has conducted his life before and after his arrest.

"We told you the truth and continue to tell the truth that Shaun is innocent," said his mother, Toni Kurihara, who testified at trial that her son was at home sleeping at the time of the offense. "If anyone is a victim, my son is a victim."

Rodrigues is still facing trial on a terroristic threatening case in which he allegedly threatened a man with a gun when the man arrived at his in-laws' Manoa residence and found Rodrigues in the yard with a ladder propped up against the home.



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