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Campbell's ma returns, hears suspect's witness

First Posted 17:35:00 04/08/2008

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BANAUE, Ifugao, Philippines -- The mother of slain United States Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell returned to this mountain town, listening to a defense witness that brought back the memories of the tragedy that had befallen her family exactly a year ago on Tuesday.

Linda Campbell said it was important for her to come back to Banaue for the hearing since it fell on Julia's first death anniversary, and the first time that the defense was presenting its witnesses.

"It is very difficult for us (members of the family) to be in the US. It is different for us just to get a report as to what has happened [in the hearings] as compared to actually hearing the witnesses," she said.

The trial of the main suspect in the Campbell killing, Juan Donald Duntugan, resumed here Tuesday, the first time that a hearing was held in this town of the killing that took place on April 8, 2007.

Previously, hearings of the Regional Trial Court Branch 34 were held in the capital town of Lagawe, 25 kilometersa from here.

The 40-year-old Campbell, a volunteer English teacher based in Albay, was killed while trekking alone in remote Batad village, about 10 kilometers from the town proper.

She visited Banaue during last year's Holy Week break to fulfill a dream of viewing the famous Ifugao rice terraces.

She was first reported missing until her decomposing body was found 10 days later by local tour guides who volunteered to help in the search.

Duntugan, 25, was charged with murder after confessing to police investigators that he had killed Campbell. He, however, claimed that he had committed the crime in a fit of sudden rage. He said he hit Campbell with a rock after he mistook her for his enemy, one Emiliano Blas, whom he described as a village bully.

Linda, accompanied by Julia's friend Catherine Quayle and Peace Corps colleague Kate Kochersberger, cited the agony of having to take a 20-hour flight from the US, only to listen to the witnesses and be reminded of the details surrounding Julia's death.

"It is really awful," she said.

She said she was also disappointed that she did not get to listen to other defense witnesses as she had expected.

Linda first visited the country in September last year to take the witness stand for the prosecution. She testified on the material and emotional losses that she and the family suffered due to Julia's death.

"I would have liked it very much to listen to what the mother would have to say about this," she said, referring to Duntugan's mother, Jane, who defense lawyers earlier listed as a witness.

Jane was withdrawn as a witness in Tuesday's hearing.

Duntugan's lawyers said the subject of her testimony was already covered by the first witness, Police Officer 3 Arnold Dalluyon.

It was through Dalluyon, Duntugan's uncle and a member of the Ifugao police, whom the suspect arranged his surrender to authorities on April 27 last year.

In his testimony, Dalluyon recounted how the accused asked to be fetched from his hiding place on Asin Road in Baguio City, and how he was eventually turned over to Superintendent Pedro Ganir, then Ifugao police director.

The defense was trying to establish Duntugan's voluntary surrender to the police, in an attempt to lower his criminal liability.

Private prosecutors, on the other hand, tried to shatter Dalluyon's testimony by citing supposed inconsistencies in his statements surrounding negotiations for Duntugan's surrender.

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