The 43-year-old who confessed to killing Christine Silawan before mutilating her body has pleaded not guilty to murder.
Renato Llenes entered the plea over the brutal death of the 16-year-old from Lapu-Lapu City today (Friday, June 7).
Llenes was arraigned before Branch 70 of the Lapu-Lapu City Regional Trial Court at 9.30am this morning.
Lawyer Manuel Degolacion, his counsel, said Llenes entered the not guilty plea in the hope of downgrading the case to homicide.
Degolacion said that by pleading not guilty, the court would still hear the prosecution and determine if the killing of Christine met the requirement for it to be considered murder.
“He entered a not guilty plea as to the charge of murder. We want to emphasise that the charge should be downgraded to homicide because there is a big difference in the punishment for murder and homicide,” he said.
He emphasised that they only wished to mitigate the punishment for Llenes by entering the not guilty plea, and his previous confession was not being retracted.
It has not been clarified on what basis the brutal killing could be downgraded to homicide.
Christine, a grade-nine student of Maribago National High School, was found dead in a vacant lot on the morning of March 11 this year.
She had suffered more than 30 stab wounds and also had much of her face peeled from her skull. An autopsy also revealed that her tongue, oesophagus and trachea has been “meticulously removed”.
Speaking after he was charged with murder, Llenes said: “I stabbed her with a pair of scissors and peeled off her skin so she won’t be recognised. I admitted everything. I was alone when I killed her.”
He also told investigators that he learned how to peel the skin off a human face through “Facebook, YouTube and the Momo Challenge”. The last of these is a controversial online fad blamed for encouraging children to self harm.
Llenes met Christine through Facebook by pretending to be a teenage boy named C J Diaz. When they met in person, he said, she rebuffed his advances, causing him to lash out.
Suspicion had previously fallen on a 17-year-old ex-boyfriend of the teenager, who has since been cleared of any involvement.
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