Men who beat US Marine to death have downgraded sentences voided

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US Marine
US Marine Major George Anikow on a tour of duty in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

The Supreme Court has voided a downgraded sentence of probation handed to two men who beat US Marine George Anikow to death seven years ago.

In a two-page resolution dated March 27 and announced today (Monday, May 13), the court 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.

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Reiterating the CA’s decision on the matter, the High Court said: “The 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.”

As we previously reported, Makati Judge Winlove Dumayas, who wrongly granted the application for probation, was dismissed for downgrading the penalty against the two after finding them liable only for homicide instead of murder in 2014. His decision was described as “gross ignorance of the law” by the high court.

“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 Supreme Court said.

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The tribunal noted that the trial court erroneously relied on the post investigation report of the Makati City Parole and Probation Office 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 the terms of receiving 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 said.

The US Marine was stabbed to death in a brawl outside the gates of Bel-Air, an upscale Makati village, in November 2012.

The 41-year-old left behind three children and his wife, Laura, who worked as a diplomat at the US embassy.

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