MANILA, Philippines – A Las Piñas court on Friday, November 15, convicted 4 men for the gruesome killing of 25-year-old advertising manager Kristelle "Kae" Davantes in a sensational case of homicide in 2013.
The Las Piñas Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 253 found the following guilty of robbery with homicide, and sentenced each of them to reclusion perpetua or a maximum of 40 years.
The 4 were also ordered to jointly pay the Davantes family P50,000 as death indemnity, P50,000 as moral damages, and P25,000 as temperate damages.
Davantes' killing was a high-profile case in 2013, where no less than former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III called for a prompt investigation.
Davantes was held at gunpoint by the men in front of her house in Las Piñas on September 7, 2013. She was taken to her car and driven by her killers to Silang, Cavite, where they strangled her using her laptop cable charger, stabbed her, and then threw her off a bridge.
The pivotal moment came when a man named Rex pointed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to Decimo, who confessed to the crime when he was arrested.
Rex's girlfriend Elena was at Decimo's house the day after the killing, September 8, where she was hanging out with Anita, the mother of Decimo's live-in partner Annie. Anita casually told Elena that Decimo had held up a girl and killed her the night before.
When Decimo joined them for dinner, he also casually told the same story.
Elena told her mother and Rex. Elena's mother had wanted her to keep quiet, but Rex went to the NBI.
Reggie Diel, who was with the 4 men during the incident, turned state witness. He claimed to have disagreed with the plan to kill Davantes.
"Jomar Pepito, Lloyd Benedict Enriquez, and Jorek Evangelista all denied killing Kristelle Davantes. Lloyd Benedict and Jorek admitted their presence when Davantes was taken in her car driven away from her home, but they were not active participants. They just happened to be with the other men," court records said.
Ruling of the court
"While Diel was not able to confirm who really killed Kristelle Davantes, pinpointing the actual perpetrator is not necessary," the court said.
It added: "Case law establishes that whenever homicide has been committed by reason of or on the occasion of the robbery, all those who took part as principals in the robbery will also be held guilty as principals of robbery with homicide although they did not take part in the homicide, unless it appears that they sought to prevent the killing."
Although Decimo confessed to the crime in front of the media, he still registered a not guilty plea upon arraignment.
He only changed it to a guilty plea at the start of the defense presentation.
At this time, there were no rules yet on continuous trial. It only became effective September 2017, which compels the court to expediently decide cases by holding marathon hearings, prohibiting motions that are the usual causes of delay, and standardizing pleading formats for a quicker process. – Rappler.com