freedom in question
Prosecutors want him jailed while
he appeals his home invasion case
Prosecutors are asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to set aside a judge's order allowing convicted home invasion robber Shaun Rodrigues to remain free pending appeal.
Attorneys in the appellate division of the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney filed a petition Monday for a writ ordering Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall to have Rodrigues sent to prison immediately, said Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara.
The defense says prosecutors "jumped the gun" in filing the petition and hopes the high court will dismiss the matter on procedural grounds because Crandall has not signed her order yet.
Rodrigues, 24, of Kailua, was granted bail while awaiting trial in a July 2000 Manoa robbery and was allowed to remain free after he was found guilty by Crandall in March 2002.
After a series of delays, Crandall sentenced Rodrigues to 20 years in prison Sept. 10, but granted a defense motion to stay the sentence. She allowed him to remain out on bail while he appeals, a process that could take as long as a year or more to be resolved.
Defense attorney William Harrison, who had not yet seen the petition but was apprised of its contents, said there are no facts alleged in the petition that make the case an extraordinary situation to warrant immediate action by the high court.
A writ is an "extraordinary step" that is rarely granted except in circumstances such as a defendant posing a danger to the community or at risk of fleeing, both of which don't apply to Rodrigues and were not raised by prosecutors in their petition, he said.
Manoa resident Dianne Sugihara and her daughter, Dawn Sugihara, separately picked Rodrigues out in a photo lineup as the person who had been in their home two days earlier on July 8, 2000, tied them up and robbed them at gunpoint. They also identified him at a subsequent hearing and at trial.
Rodrigues continues to maintain he is innocent and that he was wrongly convicted.
Harrison said they plan to appeal on several grounds, which the court apparently found were substantial appellate issues, he said.
Harrison has argued that the identification of Rodrigues by the victims was "flawed" and stemmed from a photo lineup procedure used by Honolulu police that has come under scrutiny in other jurisdictions.
Uehara said her written findings issued in December 2003 contradict what she said at Rodrigues' sentencing. "Although she said it's a substantial appellate issue, it's not really substantial because her findings clearly showed identification was proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Uehara said.
In her findings, Crandall found that the testimony by Rodrigues' mother, stepfather and brother, who testified at trial that he was at home when the Manoa robbery occurred, was not credible.
She also found that police followed proper procedures regarding the photo line-ups and that the procedures "was not impermissibly suggestive."