By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The primary suspect in the robbery and killing of student Shella Mee Condes in 2015 was acquitted due to technicalities.
In a radio interview, Atty. Arnel Sigue, the lawyer representing on behalf of the Condes family, said the evidence presented by the prosecution was strong, while the testimony made by the suspect identified as Ricardo Iwayan was weak.
But due to technicalities, the court found the presented evidence to be invalid which ultimately led to the acquittal.
Sigue said the court pointed out that a lawyer should have been present when the police recovered the victim’s mobile phone from Iwayan’s possession, as well as when Iwayan pointed where the slain victim’s remains were located.
As there were no lawyers present during the said recoveries, the court did not accept them as evidence.
Sigue also said the case was handled by at least three judges since 2015 and Iwayan was never found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
He further stated that he was saddened by the development of the case, pointing out the court should not base on the technicalities but the truth.
In another interview with Condes’ younger brother, he said they are also saddened and furious over the court’s ruling, but they have no choice but to leave the justice to God.
In May 10, 2015, Condes, a 19-year-old college student of West Negros University (Now STI-WNU), left their house in Barangay Estefania in order to visit her friend in Barangay Villamonte. She boarded a tricycle believed to have been driven by Iwayan.
Condes would not reach her destination and she was later declared missing.
Iwayan, meanwhile, was later arrested in a follow-up operation by police in Himamaylan City and they recovered Condes’ mobile phone in his possession.
He would then later point to the location of Condes’ remains in a sugarcane field in Barangay Estefania.
At the time it was also believed that Condes was also raped as she was found hogtied and half-naked.
However, the rape allegation was never established by medical examiners as they are unable to prove if she has any lacerations as she was already in an advanced state of decomposition./DGB, WDJ