CA dismisses Jason Ivler’s appeal to reverse guilty decision; finds all elements of murder present

December 18, 2017 - 4:41 PM
TV5 screengrab of Jason Ivler in prison. The Court of Appeals has affirmed his conviction by a lower court of the murder of Renato Ebarle Jr.

MANILA – The Court of Appeals has dismissed the appeal of Jason Ivler to reverse and set aside the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City’s November 2015 judgment of conviction, where he was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder and sentenced to imprisonment of reclusion perpetua.

The Court of Appeals 14th Division, in its decision promulgated on November 28, said that the elements of murder were present in the case of the killing of Renato Ebarle, Jr. on November 18, 2009.

Witnesses saw the cars of Ivler and Ebarle along Bonny Serrano Avenue, heading to San Juan City. Both came to a stop in front of the barangay hall of Brgy. Valencia, where Ivler alighted his vehicle, approached Ebarle’s vehicle, then fired a gun multiple times at its occupant.

The CA cited the RTC’s decision as saying the killing did not fall under the crime of parricide or infanticide, and that the prosecution sufficiently established the rest of the elements of murder: a person is killed; the accused killed him or her; and the killing was attended by any of the qualifying circumstances mentioned in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.

The CA also noted that the RTC found the testimonies of Dr. Mamerto Bernabe (from the Philippine National Police) and Dr. Ruperto Sombilon, Jr. (from the National Bureau of Investigation); as well as the autopsy and medico-legal reports, as proving that the death of Ebarle, the son of former presidential chief of staff Renato Ebarle, Sr., was due to gunshot wounds.

While Ivler countered that the doctors’ reports are unreliable, and that photographs of the body of the victim are “inadmissible for lack of authentication,” the CA said that Bernabe and Sombilon conducted a joint autopsy of the body, which was properly identified as belonging to Ebarle.

“Ivler’s act of diminishing the value of the medico-legal reports, the autopsy photographs, and the pictures of the crime scene, particularly those of the victim’s vehicle, does not contribute anything to his defense,” the CA said.

The CA also pointed out that two eyewitnesses, SPO3 Edgar Tiodin and Archie Castillo, testified that they saw how Ivler killed the victim.

“I saw the suspect person going towards ah [sic] alighted from the blue wagon. When I stopped, I heard the shot, and when I looked, I saw again the person firing again two shots,” Tiodin is quoted as saying.

The latter pointed to Ivler in court, when asked to identify the shooter.

“The oncoming fast vehicle stopped in front of me and a person alighted from that vehicle, and then he walked towards the other vehicle, then he fired his gun… He fired his gun for no less than three times,” Castillo was quoted as saying.

Like Tiodin, Castillo also pointed to Ivler in court, when asked to identify the shooter.

Meanwhile, Ivler denied that he was the killer, and said he was not in the area at the time and date that the shooting took place, and said the two witnesses were not credible.

Ivler also said the two were influenced by news reports showing his photos and implicating him as a suspect.

The CA said, “Ivler’s contentions directed at assailing the credibility of the eyewitnesses ring hollow. He claims that the eyewitnesses had no ample opportunity to view the perpetrator because the crime rapidly unfolded in front of them and they lacked focus as they were inflicted with a paralyzing fear brought by a shocking experience.”

The CA continued, “It is not unnatural for the eyewitnesses to have a detailed recollection of the incident, especially the identity of the shooter.”

The CA further said that the RTC noted that based on the witnesses’ testimonies, they were only a short distance away from the shooting, and the scene of the crime was well-lit.

Aside from that, the prosecution also presented evidence such as the firearm used in the shooting, and the bullets recovered. NBI agents who arrested Ivler testified that “a shoot-out ensued between (Ivler) and the arresting team as they were about to serve the warrant of arrest on Ivler,” and they recovered a .45 caliber pistol.

The ballistician who performed the examinations stated that “the bullet which killed the victim and the one recovered from the victim’s vehicle were fired from the caliber .45 pistol seized during Ivler’s arrest.”

As for Ivler’s alibi that he was at a friend’s birthday party in Makati City from 10:15 p.m. on November 18 to 3:00 a.m. on November 19, when the shooting incident happened at around 11:00 p.m. on November 18 in Santolan Road (or Bonny Serrano), the CA said it agreed with the RTC that “the proximity of the two places and the physical ability of the accused to travel would show that it is not impossible for (him) to travel to and from the scene of the crime and his alleged location on the night of November 18, 2009.”

The CA modified the decision of the RTC in that:
1. the award of actual damages representing burial expenses is increased to P143,890 from P66,590;
2. the award of moral damages is increased from P75,000 to P100,000;
3. the award of exemplary damages is increased from P30,000 to P100,000; and
4. Ivler is ordered to pay civil indemnity in the amount of P100,000.