Kidnapping, first-degree robbery
Length of Sentence:
March 1, 2002
December 1, 2014
Causes of Wrongful Conviction:
Witness misidentification, faulty police investigation procedures
On July 8th, 2000 a man with a pistol invaded a home in Manoa, Hawai'i and forced 24-year-old woman and her 53 year-old mother, to lie face down on the floor where he tied them up on put clothing over their heads while he ransacked the home.
Shaun Rodrigues, who had installed an alarm system at the robbery victims home a month earlier, was misidentified as the perpetrator of the crime in a poorly administered photographic line-up. He was arrested on July 10th, 2000 and two years later sentenced to 20 years in prison after Judge Virginia Crandall heard the evidence without a jury.
Lawyers at the Hawai'i Innocence Project filed a motion for a new trial. HIP had found a new witness who stated that he had been hired by another man to commit the robbery of the victim's residence. The man who had asked him to participate in the robbery did not go to work on the day of the crime and also matched all descriptions of the robber.
The evidence of Rodrigues’ innocence was overwhelming. His home search failed to turn up anything relevant to the crime. He and his family members testified that he was at home sleeping during the robbery. He passed a polygraph test. However, the motion was still denied. Hawai'i Innocence Project lawyer, Bill Harrison, then filed a 600-page petition with Hawai'i Governor Neil Abercrombie detailing the evidence of Rodrigues' innocence. On December 1st, 2014, one hour before he was to leave office, Abercrombie signed an order commuting Rodrigues’ sentence and issued a pardon for both crimes. Rodrigues served 10 years of his sentenced before he was finally pardoned and released.