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Campbell slay trial ends; verdict to be out June 30

By Melvin Gascon
Northern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 17:06:00 04/09/2008

Filed Under: Crime, Law & Justice,volunteerism

BANAUE, Ifugao, Philippines -- The trial of the accused in the murder of United States Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell ended here Wednesday, a day after her first death anniversary.

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

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

?We are glad that we are on schedule. 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 only 10 minutes, capped more than 11 months of trial of one of this mountain town's most celebrated cases -- the murder of a foreigner in a village that draws thousands of foreign and local tourists every year.

Campbell, 40, a former journalist and an 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 gorge about 20 meters from the trail.

Juan Donald Duntugan, a 25-year-old woodcarver from Batad, admitted killing Campbell. However, he said he attacked Campbell after he mistook her for his enemy in the village.

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 that did not encounter postponements.

The trial ended earlier than expected Wednesday as defense lawyers Eugene Balitang and Pedro Mayam-o decided to rest their case after their 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 Duntugan.

?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," Balitang said.

Julia's mother, Linda Campbell, who flew in from the US to attend the hearing, recounted how memories of her daughter keep her motivated to move on, despite all the difficulties that she and her family encountered.

?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 told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

She expressed disappointment that she got to hear the testimony of only one defense witness, instead of the five originally listed by the defense panel. The list included the mother of the accused, Jane Duntugan, but the defense lawyers withdrew her appearance on Tuesday.

Journalist Catherine Quayle, Julia's friend for seven years, said while dealing with Campbell's death was ?horrifying,? she did not have ?strong feelings? for Duntugan even after seeing him for the first time on Tuesday.

?He's just like a boy. So I want to know what really happened," she said.

On Tuesday, the defense presented their sole witness, Police Officer 3 Arnold Dalluyon, a member of the Ifugao police and an uncle of the accused, who testified on the circumstances surrounding Duntugan's surrender and turnover to Ifugao police officials.

Lawyer Reynaldo Agranzamendez, the lead private prosecutor, expressed dismay that the defense panel chose 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," Agranzamendez said, referring to the video clip of Duntugan's interview with ABS-CBN reporter Jay Ruiz following his surrender on April 27, 2007.

Copyright 2015 Northern Luzon Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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