Thursday, April 10, 2008

Victims' Kin Seek Reversal of Villarosa Acquittal


Since a conspiracy to kill the Quintos brothers existed, all the participants should have been convicted.
The family of Michael and Paul Quintos made the argument in seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals’ acquittal last month of former Mindoro Occidental Rep. Jose Villarosa and three others in the killings.
In the motion for reconsideration they filed separately in the appellate court for Michael, who was single, his parents also said that it appeared from the way the case was going that the acquittal of the four was certain.
The family of Paul Quintos, who was married with children, will file a separate motion for reconsideration.
Aside from Villarosa, farmers Ruben Balaguer, Gelito Bautista and Mario Tobias were acquitted and ordered freed by the appellate court.
The court, on the other hand, upheld the convictions of farmers Eduardo Hermoso, Manolito Matricio and Josue Ungsod who were sentenced to 40 years in prison for each count of murder and ordered to pay damages to the Quintoses’ heirs.
Hermoso, Matricio and Ungsod, in two separate motions for reconsideration they also filed in the Court of Appeals, questioned the affirmation of their guilt.
The court had ruled that Hermoso’s confession implicating all seven men in the December 1997 killing of the Quintos brothers was admissible, but could not be used to pin down Villarosa and the three others because it was uncorroborated by other evidence.
Hermoso confessed to being the gunman and admitted being present at the Oct. 7, 1997, meeting during which Villarosa allegedly discussed killing Michael.
In its motion, Michael’s family said the appellate court erred when it stated that the rules of court require that the participation of a coconspirator named in the statement of another conspirator must be proved by other evidence. They said only the existence of a conspiracy must be shown by separate evidence.
“In this case, the existence of a conspiracy has been sufficiently shown by independent evidence, namely, the eyewitnesses who testified that Hermoso, Matricio, Ungsod and other persons acted as one and in concert to kill the unsuspecting brothers,” Michael’s family said.
They also said the court’s ruling that the extrajudicial statement made by Hermoso was not enough to convict the four men was “not true, incomplete and misleading.”
In the first place, they said, Hermoso made a judicial statement to the Mamburao court, aside from the extrajudicial one he made to the National Bureau of Investigation.
They said Hermoso’s statements were corroborated by Orlando Estanes, who had been arrested earlier in connection with the murders, in the latter’s two sworn statements.

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