Suspects plead not guilty to murder of trader

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Friday, November 12, 2010

MATI, Davao Oriental -- The father and son accused in the killing of a local telephone firm owner pleaded not guilty to the murder charges filed against them during their arraignment Thursday.

In the arraignment hearing held before the sala of Regional Trial Court Branch 5 Judge Jordan Reyes in Mati, accused Nico Silvestre Gonzales and his father Rodolfo Gonzales both pleaded not guilty in the murder of Connie Go.

Both father and son were said to be calm when they personally entered their plea, which created a stir inside the courtroom as the prosecutors were allegedly expecting for the accused to be pleading guilty.


The private prosecution panel headed by lawyer Paul Vincent Montejo immediately asked the court to re-schedule the hearing based on the motion to bail by the elder Gonzales, which was supposed to follow after the arraignment.

The accused were represented by Philip Pantojan, who happens to be one of the lawyers of the Ampatuans, who are also facing murder charges for the death of 57 people in the Maguindanao massacre last November 23, 2009.

Security in and out of the courtroom is said to be tight.

To recall, Nico Silvestre Gonzales, who is in his early 20s, earlier admitted to stabbing Go 36 times. The son, however, cleared his father of any involvement, saying that he was alone when he killed the victim inside her residence.

Nico's statement was contrary to that of the guard, who claimed to have seen both accused when they entered the Go residence at around 4 a.m. of September 30 and left two hours after. The body of the victim was found around 10 a.m.

It was learned that the elder Gonzales and Go have been lovers for almost 30 years. The victim allegedly despised the younger Gonzales as he is the product of the elder Gonzales's illicit affair with another woman.

The accused are now detained at the Davao Oriental provincial jail in Mati.

The Connie Go murder case is one of the most celebrated cases in the province as both the suspects and the victim belong to the rich and influential clans. (Ben O. Tesiorna/with reports from Batits Gonzales)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 12, 2010.

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