The two Americans charged with the murder of 23-year-old Tomi Masters have pleaded not guilty at their first pretrial court appearance.
Mir Islam, aged 24, and Troy Woody, 22, appeared at a regional trial court in Mandaluyong City yesterday (Monday, February 11).
They are both accused of killing American Tomi Michelle Masters, who was Woody’s girlfriend.
CCTV footage shows the pair loading a large box containing Tomi’s body into a taxi in the early hours of December 23. They later asked their driver to stop on a bridge and threw the box into the Pasig River.
Former members of the hacking group UG Nazi, Woody and Islam travelled to the Philippines last year to start an online business.
Appearing in yellow prison shirts yesterday, the pair complained of their living conditions in city jail and asked to be moved to the Bureau of Immigration’s Bicutan detention centre, which is reserved for foreigners only.
Judge Rizalina Capco-Umali refused their request.
According to BuzzFeed News, the men’s stories have changed significantly since Tomi’s death, when each blamed the other for the killing.
Yesterday, when interviewed by the online news site, Islam said that Tomi died from chocking on her own vomit and that throwing her body in the river had been a misguided attempt at a burial.
He also blamed hunger for their initial stories being inaccurate. “When we were arrested, we weren’t given any food or anything so we were both very delusional,” he said.
Islam also claimed that his defence was being hindered by the FBI. He said agents had threatened to plant drugs on his Filipina fiancée if she took the stand in his defence.
He said that the agency was “obsessed” with him due to his past hacking convictions, for which he served several years in federal prison.
The opening of the pair’s trial has been set for March 13.
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