PLN has been contacted by the 70-year-old victim’s brother, Ronald, who forwarded information from the Australian Embassy in Manila about the scheduling of the trial.
The unnamed suspect, who has pleaded guilty, will appear at Regional Trial Court Branch 24 in Cabugao Ilocos Sur on October 17 — more than a year after the killing. A previous hearing, scheduled for August 20, was cancelled due to the prosecutor failing to appear at court.
According to the embassy, the suspect was arrested in May and charged with homicide. He was then released “provisionally” after posting bail.
However, this information is at odds with a previous message we received from Mr Hodgens last October. Again supported by first-hand information, he informed us that a suspect was arrested within days of his brother being gunned down.
According to this earlier information, the man — described as “a known gun-for-hire” — was identified by a 10-year-old boy who had been playing near the victim’s house at the time of the killing.
As we previously reported, the boy told police that he had approached the man, who then scared him away by revealing his gun.
The child ran home and told his father what had just happened, but was not believed. At that point a shot rang out, confirming the boy’s story of a man with a gun.
The boy was later able to identify the alleged killer from a “rogue’s gallery” of photographs.
Last year’s statement also suggested that the gun-for-hire was acting for a third party, as he had no known connection with Mr Hodgens.
However, friends of the Queensland native — widely known as Rene — contacted PLN to describe a dispute with a man in another town that had prompted him to move to Sinait.