They were ‘like family,’ but suspects no-show in Durolfo murder probe
All four suspects in the death of Solaire hotel officer Edgel Joy Durolfo did not show up for the preliminary investigation at the Parañaque City prosecutor’s office on Tuesday.
Raymond Fortun, counsel for the Durolfo family, said only the lawyers of three respondents, Josiebell Uy, Molo Hwang and Rodney Ynchausti, attended the 2 p.m. proceedings, where the media was not allowed.
The fourth suspect, Paul Egoc, filed a counteraffidavit earlier in the day. A copy of the document obtained by the Inquirer showed that Egoc mainly repeated the account earlier given by Ynchausti to Solaire security officials: That Durolfo bumped against furniture while jumping and dancing, had difficulty breathing, and suffered a seizure at a Solaire hotel room during their drug-fueled get-together on the night of Feb. 25.
Durolfo was pronounced dead in the hospital hours later on Feb. 26. On March 4, the Parañaque police charged her live-in partner Ynchausti and the three others with murder based on autopsy results showing that the 26-year-old victim sustained contusions and hemotomas and died of “asphyxia by manual strangulation.”
In an interview with the Inquirer, Fortun said the lawyers of Uy, Hwang and Ynchausti asked for a reschedule as they first wanted to obtain copies of the security video from Solaire Resort and Casino, where Durolfo and the four respondents checked in for their party.
“Many have seen it, there is nothing to hide. Somehow (the four respondents) already admitted that they really entered the (hotel) room, that they went out carrying (Durolfo), took her to the clinic and went straight to San Juan de Dios Hospital. For me, if they want to reset on the ground that they want a copy of the (footage), notwithstanding that what is material in this case is what happened inside the room and not outside, then it’s part of due process. We will give them the benefit,” Fortun said.
Deputy City Prosecutor Napoleon Ramolete set the next hearing for March 29.
Egoc maintained in his six-page counteraffidavit that he and his companions were innocent, saying they “loved (Durolfo) so much.”
“Up to this day, I am mourning her passing with deep regret and sorrow,” he said, calling Durolfo a “beloved friend” he first met in October last year through Ynchausti, his high school classmate.
According to Egoc, he, Ynchausti and Durolfo agreed on Feb. 20 to have a “private party” on the 25th. Durolfo then said she would reserve a room at Solaire and that her coemployees Hwang and Uy would be joining them.
All except Hwang arrived at Solaire’s Sky Tower around 9:30 p.m., checking into Room 812. Durolfo asked the group to wait for Hwang. “In the meantime, (she) was dancing and jumping around the room and taking pictures with (Uy).”
Durolfo then slipped and bumped against a cabinet. “We asked her if she was OK and she replied, ‘OK lang ako (I’m OK),’” Egoc said.
Around 11 p.m., Hwang arrived and Durolfo distributed ecstasy pills for everyone to take, Egoc said. Later, she was again “jumping and rolling on the carpet floor and shouting ‘Ang taas-taas ko (I’m so high).”
At 2 a.m. on Feb. 26, he heard Durolfo tell Ynchausti that she could not breathe. Ynchausti gave her water and loosened her upper garment. Egoc remembered massaging her toes as she sat on the bed. When they noticed Durolfo’s nails turning black, they decided to take her to the hospital.
Ynchausti carried her to the elevator. But in their confusion, and fearing that “we might be noticed and confronted” by Solaire employees and guards on the ground floor, “we brought her back into the room.” Egoc said they also worried at that point that Durolfo’s ‘’employment (at the hotel) might be affected.”
Once inside the room again, they repeatedly asked Durolfo how she was feeling. Ynchausti and Uy decided to give her a bath. “And when she was brought out of the bathroom (Durolfo) even gave us a thumbs-up sign,” Egoc said.
But when Durolfo suffered a seizure, they decided to bring her out again and head for the hospital, he said.
“There was no reason at all for me and the rest of the respondents to harm or lay a hand on (her and do something) that will result in her death. We were very close to each other; we were like family,” Egoc said.
At Tuesday’s proceedings, lawyers Pelagio Lawrence Cuison and Michael Daguinod appeared for Ynchausti, while Ruben Gerald Ricasata III represented Uy.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.