MANILA The Supreme Court (SC) voided the downgraded sentence of probation handed down by a Makati court against the two individuals, who ganged up on and mauled to death George Anikow, a US Marine, in a street fight seven years ago.
In a two-page resolution dated March 27, the SC First Division affirmed the decision issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) in March last year and ordered the re-arrest of Galicano Datu III and Crispin dela Paz.
Reiterating the CA's decision on the matter, the High Court said: (T)he Regional Trial Court of Makati City Branch 59 committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it granted petitioner's application for probation."
Makati City Branch 59 Presiding Judge Winlove Dumayas, who erroneously granted the application for probation, had earlier been ordered dismissed from the service by the court for downgrading the penalty against the two after finding them liable only for homicide instead of murder in 2014.
The circumstances surrounding the killing of George Anikow showed the gravity of the crime and to grant probation to the perpetrators would clearly diminish its seriousness, the SC explained.
The tribunal noted that the trial court erroneously relied on the post investigation report of the Makati City Parole and Probation Office (MCCPO) and failed to make its own determination.
In its March 2018 decision, the CA ruled that before granting probation, the court should consider the possibility of the offender to reform, together with the demands of justice and public interest, along with other relevant circumstances.
It noted that the application for probation is an admission of guilt on the part of an accused, however, Anikow's killers stood by their innocence, which is contrary to their availment of the benefits of probation.
Furthermore, the appellate court held that probation should have not been issued by the trial court since it would depreciate the seriousness of the crime committed by the two accused.
The evidence at the trial established that Anikow was stabbed, kicked and punched multiple times, even after he had disengaged from his attackers and unable to defend himself or retaliate, resulting in his death. The nature of the crime of homicide and the manner of its commission is undoubtedly serious, it noted.
Anikow was stabbed to death in a brawl that happened outside the gate of Bel-Air subdivision near Rockwell Center, Makati City, on Nov. 24, 2012, when he confronted a group in a car trying to convince a guard to allow them to pass through the village gate. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency