MANILA – A Las Piñas court has convicted 4 men for robbery with homicide over the killing of an advertising executive in 2013.
The Las Piñas Regional Trial Court Branch 253 sentenced to reclusion perpetua (40 years in prison) Lloyd Benedict Enriquez, Samuel Decimo, Kelvin Jorek Evangelista and Jomar Pepito for the slay of Kristelle “Kae” Davantes, who was robbed while she was about to enter the gate of her house, strangled and stabbed. Her body was then thrown off a bridge.
The convicts were also ordered to pay Davantes’ family a total of P125,000 in indemnity and damages.
The court relied mainly on the testimony of accused-turned-state witness Reggie Diel, who testified that he and the 4 convicts as well as another person still at large were looking for a jeepney to rob on September 7, 2013 when they chanced upon Davantes, then 25, about to open the gate of her house in Moonwalk Village.
He said the group held Davantes at gunpoint, dragged her back to her car then took her to Tagaytay.
Authorities said that while Davantes was inside her car, one of the accused strangled and stabbed her in the neck.
Diel, who was driving another car, said her body was thrown off a bridge in Silang, Cavite.
Aside from Davantes’ car, the group took her laptop, 2 cellphones and P3,000 worth of cash.
The gruesome killing made headlines in 2013 with no less than then President Benigno Aquino III ordering the National Bureau of Investigation to solve the case.
Decimo, the first to be arrested, initially confessed before the media that he stabbed the victim, but initially entered a not guilty plea. He later changed his plea, admitting his guilt.
The 3 others admitted to being present during the robbery but maintained their innocence.
But Branch 253 Judge Salvador Timbang Jr. found sufficient bases to convict the 4 accused.
“From the actions of the accused, based on what was proved by evidence, the intent of these group of men were to rob Kristelle Davantes. Their primary intention, or their modus operandi, was to take what they can from their victims inside a vehicle with the use of intimidation,” he said.
“The accused sold the personal property of Kristelle Davantes. This confirms the intent to gain, an element of robbery,” he added.
Diel testified they sold Davantes’ laptop for P2,300 and then tried to sell her car but the buyer backed out.
The court also found there was conspiracy among the accused based on their actions, noting that they had been robbing jeepneys together and that on that day “everyone involved was there to commit robbery.”
And while Diel was not able to identify who really killed Davantes, the court said all the accused were considered principals because they conspired to commit the crime.
“Case law establishes that whenever homicide has been committed by reason of or on the occasion of the robbery, all those who took part as principals in the robbery will also be held guilty as principals of robbery with homicide although they did not take part in the homicide, unless it appears that they sought to prevent the killing,” the court explained.