HONOLULU (KHNL) - A judge found him guilty, and the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld his conviction. But Tuesday, the so-called Manoa home invader made a tearful plea to the Hawaii Parole Board. KHNL News 8's Minna Sugimoto was inside Halawa Prison, as Shaun Rodrigues continued proclaiming his innocence.
When inmates appear before the parole board, they usually express remorse, say they've changed, and beg for leniency. Not Shaun Rodrigues. The man, who once ran newspaper ads asking for the public's help in clearing his name, made a plea for immediate release.
He once served our country. He's now serving time. Former National Guardsman Shaun Rodrigues says life in the big house is tough.
"Not being able to see my two-year-old son. It's hard enough I gotta see him through a glass," he said through tears.
A judge found Rodrigues guilty of breaking into a Manoa home, tying up a woman and her daughter, and robbing them. The 26-year-old, who earlier installed an alarm system in the house, maintains he's a victim of mistaken identity.
"It hurts to sit in my cell every day, waiting for the day my innocence will be proven," he said.
The Hawaii Supreme Court upheld the conviction. Despite that, Rodrigues' attorney asks the board to release him on parole immediately.
"You can let him out at this very moment," William Harrison, defense attorney, said. "Forget about the levels we have here, the criteria that you follow. There's no criteria for an innocent person being in prison."
But prosecutors argue both victims pointed the finger at the same man.
"There was no reason for them to lie, to make up, to embellish," Russell Uehara, deputy prosecutor, said. "There was no reason for them to falsely accuse an innocent person."
For the sake of those women, prosecutors want Rodrigues locked up for his full 20-year term.
"They think about this case every day," Uehara said of the victims. "Every day they come home, they wonder is someone in my house waiting for me with a gun."
Parole board members say they have in the past released inmates they thought were innocent, despite their convictions. The panel is expected to issue its decision on Rodrigues in two weeks.