Verdict in Philippines rape case is delayed for at least a week
November 26, 2006
The fate of four Okinawa-based U.S. Marines charged in the alleged rape of a Philippine woman won’t be known for at least another week.
The verdict was to be announced Monday, but officials with Makati Regional Trial Court said Friday that Judge Benjamin Pozon now plans to issue a decision Dec. 4, when court is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.
Jun Sunbilla, the officer in charge of Makati Regional Trial Court’s judicial branch, said the judge needs more time to review the evidence. The case documents involved, including the number and length of witness testimony to be reviewed, are “voluminous,” he said.
The court issued the order Friday morning to move the verdict’s reading, Sunbilla said.
Prosecutors allege that Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith raped a woman Nov. 1, 2005, inside a van at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila. Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood, Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier allegedly cheered him on. Smith claims the sex was consensual.
The alleged victim, now 23, has testified she was drunk and too weak to stop the assault.
If convicted, all four face a maximum of 40 years in jail.
The Marines are assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit on Okinawa but have remained in the custody of the U.S. Embassy in Manila during their trial.
The previous court session was held Sept. 22, when Duplantis was the final of the four accused Marines to testify in the case.
The case has fueled protests in the Philippines over the local presence of the U.S. military, which has worked with Philippine troops to thwart Muslim militancy in the south.