Vhong's lawyer coy on Deniece as state witness


Posted at May 20 2014 02:14 AM | Updated as of May 21 2014 03:06 AM

Cedric Lee (left) and Deniece Cornejo (center) emerge from the Taguig Regional Trial Court after their bail petition hearing in the case of serious illegal detention of Vhong Navarro (right) in this composite of photos taken last Friday. Photos by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA - The camp of actor Vhong Navarro is not keen on the possibility of Deniece Cornejo turning state witness in the serious illegal detention charge she is facing along with Cedric Lee, Simeon "Zimmer" Raz, Jr., and others.

In a live interview on "Bandila" on Monday, Atty. Alma Mallonga was asked whether she would be open to Cornejo testifying against her co-accused in relation to the January 22 mauling of Navarro.

"Unfortunately, it is not up to us. It's up to the court," Mallonga said. "There are requirements in order for you to be a state witness, and you must not appear to be the most guilty. What do you think?"

Cornejo accused Navarro of raping her, which she said led to the mauling. Her rape complaint against the actor has since been dismissed by the Department of Justice.

Jed Fernandez, one of the five charged with serious illegal detention, earlier sought to turn state witness, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, but has since reportedly reconsidered.

"Wala akong communication, formal or informal, with Sec. de Lima on this matter," Mallonga said. "Kung meron man, iyon ay narinig ko lamang. I can only speculate and I do not know why he backed out."

Notwithstanding the possibility of state witnesses from Lee's camp, Mallonga expressed confidence in Navarro's case, citing their line-up of evidence and witnesses until the last scheduled hearing on February 24, 2015.

She said their camp will be presenting the doctor who treated Navarro after the mauling, the CCTV footage from Forbeswood Heights, National Bureau of Investigation agents, and an interview of ABS-CBN News' Jay Ruiz with Lee and Cornejo only days after the incident.

"When [Navarro] testified in court, I was very happy," Mallonga said, referring to the hearing last Friday. "I presented him. He answered all the questions. It's very easy to testify when you know your story very well, when you're just telling your truth."

Mallonga added: "We were never afraid. He was able to answer all the questions on cross. And in the course of the cross-examination, I'd like to think that he was able to further fortify his story."