Court upholds conviction of cop in women’s slay-A A +A
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
THE Court of Appeals (CA) Cebu Station has affirmed the conviction of a police officer in the deaths of a businesswoman and her companion in 2007.
Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles affirmed the lower court’s ruling finding SPO1 Mateo Yanson guilty of killing Pilar Hernandez, owner of PRH Lending, and her companion Wivina Englis Pancho.
The appellate court modified the trial court’s decision and held that Yanson is guilty of two counts of homicide, not murder.
“No greater degree of certainty is required when the evidence is circumstantial than when it is direct,” the decision Justice Ingles penned for the CA’s 18th Division read.
In 2008, Yanson was convicted by the Regional Trial Court Branch 19 in Cebu City of two counts of murder and was ordered to pay P250,000 to the victims’ heirs.
Yanson allegedly shot 61-year-old Hernandez on Sept. 9, 2006. He also shot Pancho in the head.
The prosecution witnesses said Hernandez arrived in her office on T. Padilla Ext. corner M.J. Cuenco Ave. in Cebu City. Pancho arrived a few minutes later.
Security guard Allan Ambrosio said he saw Yanson leave Hernandez’s office a few minutes after the incident.
Police officer Michael Santino Cortes testified he met Yanson on his way out of Hernandez’s office after obtaining a loan.
Policewoman Eddiely Malata also testified that Yanson took her Taurus 9MM pistol on Sept. 8, 2006.
The gun, which Malata was selling, was found out to be the same firearm used in the shootings.
Yanson, in his testimony, denied the charges. He said there was nothing in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses directly pointing at him as the assailant.
The prosecution also failed to establish that he had the motive to kill the women, said Yanson.
In its ruling, the appellate court said the prosecution evidence presented was sufficient to prove Yanson’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
For as long as the prosecution offered “credible and sufficient circumstantial evidence,” the accused would be imputed of the crime.
Instead of murder, the appellate court found Yanson guilty of two counts of homicide and sentenced between 20 to over 30 years in jail.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 08, 2012.