Shop owner’s son cleared in milk tea deaths
Citing insufficiency of evidence, a prosecutor has dismissed the murder and frustrated murder charges filed against Lloyd Abrigo, the lone suspect in the April 9 milk tea poisoning case in Manila.
“It is hardly believable that the respondent had [a] motive to injure Arnold Aydalla more so kill Suzaine Dagohoy as he did not know them…; neither was it shown that he was harboring ill feelings against them,” Assistant City Prosecutor Dennis Aguila said in his resolution, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer on Wednesday.
Dagohoy died while Aydalla spent several days in the hospital after they drank a glass of Hokkaido-flavored milk tea bought from the ErgoCha, the milk tea shop in Blumentritt, Manila, owned by Abrigo’s father, William, on April 9.
William, who prepared the concoction served to the couple, also died after he drank from the same glass. A test conducted by the police showed that the milk tea contained oxalic acid, a poisonous, colorless substance commonly used as a cleaning or bleaching agent.
The police filed charges against Abrigo after one of the shop helpers testified that the night before the milk tea poisoning incident, the suspect came to the shop and mixed a “foul-smelling” concoction.
“Further, even assuming for the sake of argument that he knew [the victims] and harbored [a] grudge against them, killing them on that specific date and time using the toxic substance is highly inconceivable if not absurd…,” Aguila said, citing the following reasons:
One, the suspect was not in the store when the couple ordered milk tea; second, it was highly unlikely that the couple would be passing by the store to buy milk tea and third, even if they had dropped by the store, it would have been “extremely improbable” to determine that they would be ordering Hokkaido-flavored milk tea.
Aguila also said that Abrigo’s willingness to submit himself to a police investigation, allow probers to gather pieces of evidence at the store and surrender the footage taken by the shop’s closed circuit television camera negated the accusation that he had an “ill motive to injure or at most, kill the victims.”
At the same time, the prosecutor said that the admission made by a shop helper that Abrigo had no hand in the preparation of the poisonous concoction “essentially exculpates respondent….”
“There being [a] lack of [the] material elements of murder, the charge against [Abrigo] for the death of [Dagohoy] must necessarily be dismissed. In the same vein, the charge of frustrated murder must also be dismissed for the same reason,” Aguila said.
He further dismissed the possibility of the accused being charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and serious physical injury since Abrigo did not make the tainted concoction while the milk tea shop was owned and registered in his mother’s name.
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