RTC Davao acquits top cop in 2014 murder of businessman

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 February)—The Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Davao City acquitted former Col. Leonardo Felonia after being tagged as the “principal” in the 2014 murder of Cebu-based businessman Richard King.

Col. Leonardo Felonia. Photo from Col. Felonia’s WordPress site

RTC Branch 14 Presiding Judge Gerardo C. Braganza, in a decision released on Tuesday, said that the prosecution failed to prove with moral certainty that Felonia was the “principal by inducement” in the incident.

Felonia was former head of the Regional Intelligence Unit of the Police Regional Office in Davao.

Felonia’s co-accused, Paul Dave M. Labang, was previously discharged as a state witness while Romnel Escote Cerna and Rodel Escote pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of homicide.

According to the trial court, the conspiracy to commit murder “was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.”

In a briefer released to the media by the legal counsel, the testimonial and object evidence supported the acquittal of Felonia.

“While the gunman alleged that Felonia called him several times in connection with the crime, the forensic examination of Labang’s cellphone revealed that Labang did not receive any calls the day before or on the day of the murder,” it read.

It added that the testimony of Labang “contained inconsistencies” which were substantially rebutted by the testimony of the officers of the Regional Intelligence Unit.

“The bullet recovered at the crime scene did not match the firearm recovered from gunman Paul Labang,” it said.

King was shot dead on June 12, 2014 inside his office at the former Vital C. Building on Lacson Street, this city. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)