Aegis presents experts to dispute report Atio died from hazing
Members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity implicated in the death of University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III have presented medical experts to prove their claim that death because of hazing is “out of this world.”
During Wednesday’s preliminary investigation, Atty. Floresto P. Arizala Jr., former chief of the Medico-Legal Department of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Dr. Rodel V. Capule and Dr. Bu C. Castro submitted their separate affidavits.
Atty. Arizala is the expert witness for Mhin Wei Chan, while Dr. Capule is the medical expert witness of John Paul Solano and Dr. Castro is the expert witness of Axel Hipe.
Arizala, in his 13-page judicial affidavit, said that the findings of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that Atio died of hazing have no factual basis.
“The said finding (death due to hazing) is completely hearsay and speculative, and it cannot and should not be made as legal basis for filing a criminal case,” he stressed.
The pathologist being questioned in the affidavit, Police Superintendent Dr. Joseph Palmero of the national police’s crime laboratory office, concluded that Castillo died due to “severe blunt traumatic injuries, both upper limbs as shown in the gross autopsy findings.”
“The mechanism of death from traumatic soft tissue injuries (in this case swollen arms with hematomas based on autopsy and with history of hazing), will cause rhabdomyolysis (skeletal breakdown) resulting [in] electrolyte imbalance and acute kidney injury,” Dr. Palmero stated.
His report added: “Increased potassium in the blood, and decreased calcium in the blood due to muscle trauma will cause immediate death from cardiac failure (fatal conduction abnormalities).”
But Arizala said he believed that Castillo’s cause of death was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or a heart condition, which Solano has previously insisted in his counter affidavit.
Arizala’s findings was backed by Solano’s medical expert witness, Dr. Rodel V. Capule, who specifically pointed that “Dr. Palmero admitted in his opinion that the cause of death of Horacio was not specifically due to trauma and was based merely on limited data and tissue samples.”
“In spite of his remarks, Dr. Palmero ventured into giving an opinion that the cause of death is “severe blunt traumatic injuries, both upper limbs as shown in the gross autopsy findings,” Dr. Capule claimed.
Dr. Capule added that “without any further medical or scientific bases, the “blunt traumatic injuries, right and left upper extremities” suddenly became “severe blunt traumatic injuries, both upper limbs.”
Dr. Castro, on the other hand, said a more thorough autopsy is still needed “to bring one closer to the determination of the cause of death.”
He said the acute kidney injury of Atio “could be caused by various events” such as severe blunt trauma to the muscles, a failing heart, medicines that were toxic and excreted through the kidneys, artificially prepared food products that were toxic to the kidneys, direct blunt injury to the kidneys or the dying stage itself.
The suspects’ medical experts appeared to be “unanimous” in saying that Horacio’s death could not be attributed to acute tubular necrosis and congestion, according to lawyer Paterno Esmaquel, Solano’s legal counsel.