Not all convicts are guilty | Inquirer News

Not all convicts are guilty

/ 04:26 AM March 04, 2014

Not all people serving time in prison are guilty. Some of them were either framed or just victims of circumstances.

As I was watching the odyssey of William Dillon on “ci” (crime and investigation) channel on Sunday night, I saw a parallel between his case and that of Hubert Webb.

Both were victims of a flawed justice system.


Dillon was wrongly accused of bludgeoning to death James Devorak, a homosexual, on a beach in Melbourne, Florida, in 1981.


Webb, along with several others, was wrongly accused of taking part in the massacre of the Vizconde family—Estrellita, Carmela and Jennifer—in 1991. Carmela was also raped.

Both Dillon and Webb—as well as his coaccused—were released after many years in prison; Dillon after 29 years, Webb after 18 years.

Dillon went to prison on the testimonies of a dog handler who used a “trained” German Shepherd in smelling the supposed murderer; a young woman who said she saw him with a bloodied shirt; and a partially blind man who mistakenly identified Dillon as the young man he gave a ride to on the night the crime took place.

Webb and his coaccused went to prison on the testimonies of Jessica Alfaro who never knew Webb and the other coaccused; the former housemaids of the Webbs who said they saw Hubert come home one night with a bloodied shirt.

In both trials, the judges ignored the inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses.

In Dillon’s case, the judge didn’t take note that the woman who earlier said she saw him wearing a bloodied shirt on the night she went to bed with him backtracked on her statement.


At the start of the “trial of the (20th) century,” Judge Amelita Tolentino didn’t take note of the fact that a woman agent of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had coached Alfaro to identify Antonio Lejano II, who she claimed was her boyfriend, from among a lineup of the accused.

It was the NBI’s most disgraceful moment: Producing a very unreliable witness in the person of Alfaro against several innocent young men, including Webb.

There was a tinge of irony in Dillon’s case because his very own family, having faith in the “infallibility” of the US justice system, believed the accusation against him.

It was different with Webb: His family was completely behind him so much so that the Webb patriarch, Freddie, lost in the Senate race.

A DNA test found Dillon innocent of the crime he had been accused of after so many years.

On the other hand, Webb’s semen sample, which he volunteered to provide authorities to prove his innocence during the trial, was lost by the NBI when it was ordered presented by the Supreme Court during a review of the case.

The high court finally acquitted Webb in 2011 and his coaccused—some of whom he never knew in the first place before the trial—on a split decision: 7-4.

*   *   *

To the credit of the US justice system, the real murderers (there were several of them) were eventually found out and are now being hunted by the police.

Here, law enforcement authorities are not looking for the culprits in the Vizconde massacre.

Again, to the credit of the US system of making amends to an innocent man, Dillon has been awarded $1.3 million in damages by the state of Florida.

The Philippine government, on the other hand, has never apologized to the innocent men it wrongly sent to prison.

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In addition, Tolentino has been promoted to the Court of Appeals.

TAGS: Convicts, courts, Government, Hubert Webb, Philippines

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