The Regional Trial Court has found one of three Bato brothers guilty of homicide for the fatal shooting of a man asleep in his house in Agban, Baras in 2019.
Freddie Sarte Torno, a resident of barangay Libjo, was sentenced to suffer imprisonment from 10 years and one day as minimum to 17 years, four months and one day as maximum.
RTC Branch 43 Acting Presiding Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada also ordered him to pay the heirs of Marlon Lizaso the total sum of P200,000 as civil indemnity, moral, exemplary and temperate damages.
Along with his brothers Ranie and Jonelle, Freddie was accused of murder for allegedly conspiring with each other to shoot Lizaso while he was asleep in his house in Agban at around 10 PM of March 11, 2019.
Eighteen days after the killing, Freddie Torno was arrested for illegal possession of a Cal. 38 revolver, similar to the one used in the Lizaso killing, during a court-ordered search by the police on Mar. 29.
In a plea bargain agreement, he pleaded guilty to a lesser offense and was sentenced to a jail term of two years and one day as minimum to six years as maximum, and to pay a fine of P10,000.00.
On July 23, 2019, while he was serving the sentence for the gun charge, the prosecution filed the Lizaso murder case against him and his two brothers who remain at large.
The case filed by the prosecution was anchored on the testimony of two key witnesses who saw the three accused running away from the Lizaso house after a gunshot was heard.
A 16-year-old student testified that she and her classmate were working on their school project when they noticed some persons outside the house walking back and forth.
When they went out to check, they saw Jonelle holding a gun in the company of his brothers. Ranie told the two girls not to make a noise, prompting the frightened classmates to immediately enter the house.
At 10 PM, while she was in her house, she heard a loud gunshot and when she peeped through the window, she saw Ranie holding a gun and running towards Agban Elementary school together with his brothers.
Another witness, who was walking home, also heard the gunshot and saw the three brothers, with Ranie holding a gun, running away from the Lizaso house towards the school.
The victim’s mother was then watching TV at the sale when she heard the gun go off and when she entered Marlon’s room, she saw from the window three men running away towards the school.
When she switched on the light, she saw Marlon on the bed with a gunshot wound on his head. The victim was rushed to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center in Virac but he died the following morning.
In his defense, Freddie Torno claimed he was at his house in Libjo, Bato that evening, with his wife corroborating his claim, but he later admitted before the Court that Libjo is very near Agban, Baras.
In convicting the accused, Judge Gapas-Agbada said there were more than one circumstance in the case that led to the verdict of conviction.
The affidavits of witnesses proved that at least an hour before the crime was committed, Freddie Torno and his brothers were at the vicinity of the crime scene and that they were seen fleeing from the house of the victim after a loud gunshot was heard or about the time the crime was committed.
“The positive and credible testimonies of (the two witnesses) must certainly prevail over the negative testimonies of accused Freddie Torno and his wife that he was not at the crime scene,” the Court stressed, noting that the accused’s admission that Libjo is very near Agban did not demonstrate that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the time.