Wait begins

Campbell slay trial ends; verdict out June 30

BANAUE, Ifugao–The trial of the murder case of US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell ended here Wednesday, exactly one day after her first death anniversary.

Presiding Judge Ester Piscoso-Flor of Regional Trial Court branch 34 gave the prosecution and the defense 30 days to file their memorandum, or a summary of the evidence that they have presented in the case.

She set the issuance of the court’s decision for June 30.

“We are glad that we are on schedule, and we expect to come out with the verdict before the end of June to enable both parties get over with this trial,” Flor said.

Wednesday’s hearing, which lasted for only 10 minutes, capped more than 11 months of trial of one of what could be this mountain town’s most celebrated case–a gruesome killing of a foreigner in a village that draws thousands of tourists every year.

As presentation of evidence for the prosecution and defense is concluded, both panels expressed hope the decision will be in their favor.

Campbell, the 40-year old English teacher then assigned in Albay, disappeared on April 8, 2007 while walking along the mountain trail leading to remote Batad village. Her decomposing body was found 10 days later, buried in a dried up gorge, about 20 meters from the trail.

The main suspect, Juan Donald Duntugan, a 25-year old woodcarver from Batad, admitted to the killing, but claimed that he wrongly clobbered Campbell after he mistook her for a foe from the same neighborhood.

The Campbell slay trial saw a total of 16 witnesses taking the witness stand–15 for the prosecution and one for the defense–in 11 hearings with no postponements.

The trial ended earlier than expected Wednesday as defense lawyers Eugene Balitang and Pedro Mayam-o decided to rest their case after their supposed last witness, Emiliano Blas, Duntugan’s supposed enemy,
failed to appear in court.

“We did not want any more delays, so we decided to wrap it up,” Mayam-o said.

Balitang said Blas would have testified on his long-standing grudge with the accused.

“This led Duntugan to have great fear that when he noticed somebody tailing him that dusk of April 8, he decided to make the first move on him. Sadly, it turned out to be Julia,” he said.

Julia’s mother, Linda Campbell, who flew in from the US for the second time for the hearing, recounted how she memories of her daughter keeps her motivated to move forward with the case, despite all the difficulties.

“I can feel her strength, like she’s telling me to move on. I believe that if the tables were turned, she would be sitting up there (in the courtroom) supporting me,” she said, on the brink of tears.

The mother expressed disappointment that she managed to listen to the testimony of only one defense witness, instead of the five originally listed by the defense panel which included the mother of the accused, Jane Duntugan.

Julia’s fellow journalist and friend for seven years, Catherine Quayle, said while dealing with Campbell’s death was “horrying”, she did not have strong feelings for the confessed killer even after seeing him in the flesh for the first time Tuesday.

“She’s just like a boy. So I want to know what really happened,” she said.

On Tuesday, the defense presented their sole witness, PO3 Arnold Dalluyon, a member of the Ifugao police and an uncle of the accused, who testified on the circumstances surrounding Duntugan’s surrender and subsequent turnover to police authorities.

Lawyer Reynaldo Agranzamendez, private prosecutor, said he was baffled that the defense panel opted not to present Duntugan, who, he said, could have testified on the remorseful feeling that he had after the
killing, as part of his defense.

“He would have been the best person to tell the court how remorseful he is, not the taped interview,” he said, referring to the video clip of Duntugan’s interview with ABS-CBN reporter Jay Ruiz minutes following his
surrender on April 27, 2007.

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