SAN FRANCISCO – It's been 13 years since she died, but the fight for justice for Claire Joyce Tempongko continues.
Yesterday, lawyers for the State Attorney General asked the California Supreme Court to reinstate the second-degree murder conviction of Tare Ramirez, now known as Tare Beltran, Tempongko’s ex-boyfriend.
Beltran killed the 28-year old Filipina by stabbing her 21 times with a kitchen knife in front of her children in San Francisco in 2000.
Beltran confessed during his trial that he killed Tempongko but argued that he should have been convicted of a lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter — because he acted in the heat of passion.
Filipino women rights advocates like Marily Mondejar came to the hearing in support of Tempongko. She said, "Tare Beltran said he blacked out. He murdered her because she said that she aborted their baby — when in fact, there was a history of domestic violence."
Mondejar praised Filipino-American Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who presided over the hearing. She said, “She raised that there was a history of stalking, of harassing Claire Joyce.”
Prosecutors are appealing a 2011 Court of Appeals decision to overturn the murder conviction and order a new trial on the grounds that there were errors in the jury instructions on the standards for a voluntary manslaughter conviction.
Lawyers for the State Attorney General are appealing that ruling and argue that the instructions were adequate — that there was overwhelming evidence of malice needed to prove second-degree murder.
Elaine Villasper of BABAE-San Francisco, who also came to the hearing in support of Tempongko said, “There’s still not a strong comprehension of what violence against women is, what domestic violence is. When domestic violence happens, it’s a cycle of abuse. It’s a pattern of one person trying to take control of another person.”
California’s seven justices have three months after Tuesday’s hearing to issue a ruling on the case.