Court junks defense bid to drop criminal suit against Bella Ruby-A A +A
Saturday, November 5, 2011
A LOWER court rejected the bid of defense lawyers to drop the criminal suit against Bella Ruby Santos, saying the accused waived her right to question the existence of probable cause when she entered her plea last month.
Judge Ester Veloso denied Thursday the joint motion for reconsideration that Santos's counsels filed to drop the kidnapping with homicide case and recall the warrant of arrest for her and her boyfriend Ian Charles Griffiths, a British national.
“With the arraignment of the accused, she (Santos) has effectively abandoned her right to question the court’s finding of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against her,” Veloso, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court branch 6,
said in her four-page order.
The denial came barely two weeks after Veloso also denied a defense lawyer’s manifestation seeking to drop the case against Griffiths, without prejudice to the case against Santos.
Veloso pointed out there is nothing in the law that allows the dismissal of a case merely because the accused cannot be located.
Last Oct. 24, Santos pleaded not guilty to charges that she and Griffiths conspired to abduct and murder six-year-old schoolgirl Ellah Joy Pique.
Pique was allegedly grabbed by a big male foreigner and a Filipina woman last Feb. 8 outside her school in Calajoan, Minglanilla, Cebu. Her body was found the next morning at the bottom of a cliff in Barili town.
Defense lawyers Lyndon Maceren and Ronel Ubod earlier asked Veloso to review her order denying their pleading that seeks to drop the kidnapping with homicide case and recall the warrant for Santos.
“With all due respect, the accused hereby files this motion for reconsideration on the ground that the resolution of this court is contrary to law, facts, and jurisprudence,” the lawyers said.
In denying the defense's motion, Veloso ruled that the defense filed an omnibus motion for judicial determination of probable cause instead of filing a reconsideration pleading on the order for issuance of arrest warrant.
“The motions are moot and academic,” said Veloso.
In their joint motion, the defense counsels said the court failed to take into consideration that the accused received the order for their arrest only after filing their omnibus motion.
The respondents filed their omnibus motion on July 12, 2011 at 3:12 p.m. and received a copy of the court's order for the arrest of the accused at 3:30 p.m.
So, the defense said, it was impossible for the accused to challenge the court's order finding probable cause for the issuance of an arrest warrant against the respondents.
Government prosecutors opposed the defense’s motion and asked the court to deny it for being unmeritorious.
Meanwhile, the defense lawyers formally opposed the proposal of state prosecutors to allow the hearing of evidence using live-link television when minor witnesses take the witness stand.
They said the use of live-link TV will prevent them from confronting the prosecution witnesses, whom they alleged were coached.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 06, 2011.