A Malabon court has dismissed murder and parricide charges against the former husband and the father-in-law of Ruby Rose Barrameda, who was found dead in Navotas waters in 2009.
In an August 15 order, the Malabon Regional Trial Court Branch 170 dismissed the parricide case against Barrameda's estranged husband, Manuel "Third" Jimenez III, for its supposed failure to establish probable cause that he had masterminded the killing of his wife.
The same court dismissed the murder case against Third's father, Manuel Jimenez, Jr.; Lennard "Spyke" Descalso, and Norberto Ponce on July 10 upon finding that the prosecution was unable to establish their "direct participation" in Ruby Rose's death.
Ruby Rose, the sister of former beauty queen Rochelle Barrameda, was reported missing in March 2007. Two years later, her body was found stuffed inside a cemented drum that had been dropped into waters off Navotas City.
Manuel Montero, the man who pointed authorities to the location of Ruby Rose’s body, identified the suspects, and was later turned into a state witness, recanted his statements and has since gone missing.
Motion for recon
At a press conference, Ruby Rose's father, Roberto, said they are thankful to Montero and urged him to return. "Sana Montero, kung pwede lang, bumalik ka sa amin, welcome na welcome ka sa amin," he said.
The Barrameda family has filed a motion for reconsideration against Judge Edwin Larida Jr.'s more recent order and asked that he inhibit from further handling the case due to his "unmistakable bias in favor of the accused."
They said the judge disregarded the findings of the Department of Justice, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court (SC) on the sufficiency of Third's indictment for parricide.
"Such abuse of discretion is so grave and gross that it spills into the realm of dubious intent, with all due respect, on the part of Honorable Edwin G. Larida Jr.," their recently filed motion read.
Rochelle said the prosecution's enthusiasm in the case waned over time, and her parents appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte for justice.
August 15 order
In his August 15 order, the judge said the prosecution's evidence did not show "any slightest hint" of Third's involvement in Ruby Rose's death.
"None of them has shown that he had directly or indirectly participated in the killing of his estranged wife," stated the ruling, copies of which were provided to reporters by the Barrameda family on Monday.
"Neither could he be said to have acted probably in conspiracy with the other accused since it was not at least demonstrated how they concurred in or, in any way, participated towards the unified purpose of consummating the same criminal act," it added.
Although noting that Rochelle testified on the "stormy relation" between Ruby Rose and her estranged husband, the court said the testimony did not show that this made the man "[sow] the seeds of violence by masterminding the reprehensible deed against his wife."
The existence of probable cause is determined by the prosecutor who conducts the preliminary investigation of a complaint before deciding whether or not to file a case in court.
This time, though the Barrameda family said that the finding of probable cause was affirmed even by the SC, the trial court said "the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause with respect to the accused-movant."
July 10 order
In the earlier order, the trial court ruled on the demurrer to evidence filed by Manuel Jr., Descalso, and Ponce, which mainly argued that the prosecution failed to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The court found that the testimonies of the police officers who took the witness stand did not mention the names of the three accused nor establish their participation in the crime.
As to Montero, the witness who has since disappeared, the court said his two extra-judicial confessions were denied admission in 2017.
Apart from these and the discovery of Ruby Rose's body, "there is dearth of evidence on record that would associate the accused-movants to the criminal agency responsible to the crime committed," the court said.
"The People to date has never proven any direct participation of the herein accused to the actual death of Ruby Rose Barrameda," the court ruled.
"The prosecution witnesses presented and testified during the hearings have no personal knowledge about the planning as well as did they witness how the perpetrators actually performed the crime charged," it added. — RSJ, GMA News