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Republic of the Philippines
Regional Trial Court
Branch 21
Baguio City

CRIM. CASE NO. 14518-13

-versus- FOR:




Merlita Santiago Minngol is a 43 year old married woman residing at No. 4090 Purok 4,
Kias, Baguio City, who was mauled and strangled on February 22, 2012 at No. 12 Purok
Cudirao, Loakan Proper, Baguio City.



1. The fact of death of the victim MERLITA SANTIAGO MINGGOL.
2. The victim died of asphyxia as a result of strangulation and subdural hematoma
secondary to blunt traumatic head injury.
3. That cruelty, advantage of superior strength, disregard of the respect due the offended
party on account of her sex and age and nighttime was employed in killing the victim,
qualifying it from homicide to murder.


ATTY: (Formal Offer of Testimonial Evidence): Your Honor, I would like to offer the
testimony of Dr. Jaime Rodrigo L. Leal, the doctor and medico-legal who examined the
body of the victim. He will testify as to the fact of death of the victim; he will also testify
that the victim died because of strangulation and a blunt force trauma to the head, and
that cruelty, advantage of superior strength, disregard of the respect due the offended
party on account of her sex and age, and nighttime was employed in killing the victim
qualifying it to murder.


Q: Kindly please state your name, and profession for the benefit of the court.

A: I am Jaime Rodrigo Letrero Leal, a medical and forensic doctor.

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Q: So you are a medical doctor?

A: Yes.

Q: With regards to your educational background, what is your bachelor‟s degree and
where and when did you graduate?

A: I graduated from University of the Philippine with the degree Bachelor of Science in
Biology in the year 1990.

Q: When and where did you graduate from medical school?

A: I graduated from Western Visayas State University in the year 1994.

Q: Where are you practicing your profession?

A: I am currently the medico-legal officer of the PNP‟s Regional Crime Laboratory
Office of CAR which is stationed at Camp Bado Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet.

Q: Do you have any other occupation apart from being a medico-legal officer?

A: Yes. I am also a part-time faculty of the College of Law at University of Baguio.

Q: What do you teach at University of Baguio?

A: Forensic medicine.

Q: How long have you been practicing your profession as medical doctor?

A: I am practicing my profession for the past 18 years starting 1995 after I passed my
medical board examination.

Q: Did you ever have any other kind of studies, like for example graduate studies?

A: Yes. I took up Masters of Forensic Science at University of Western Australia and
graduated in 2005.

Q: What is your job description as a medico-legal officer?

A: I am responsible for examining bodies and cadavers and also any physical injuries of
any living victims which includes rape victims.

Q: So, examination of bodies and cadavers and determining the cause of death is a part of
your job?

A: Yes, it is my primary responsibility.

Q: How long have you been doing such examination?

A: For about 13 years now.

Q: Can you recall how many cadavers have you examined so far?

A: 105 cadavers already.

Q: Is this your first time to testify as an expert witness?

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A: No, this is not my first time.

Q: So how many times have you testified?

A: This is my 53
time to appear and testify as an expert witness.

Q: So with your 13 years‟ experience in the medical profession especially at examining
cadavers and determining their cause of death, and with a graduate degree in Forensic
Science, you can say with absolute sureness that you are indeed an expert witness and is
very much qualified to testify as to the cause of death of the victim Merlita Santiago

A: Yes I am.


Q: What were you asked to do in relation to this case?

A: As the medico-legal officer I was asked to examine the cadaver of MERLITA

Q: Where did you examine the victim‟s body?

A: I examined the victim‟s body at the morgue of La Funeraria Paz located at No. 79
Naguilian Road, Baguio City.

Q: When did you examine the body?

A: I examine the body on the 23
day of February 2012 at three „o clock in the afternoon.

Q: Was that the first time you saw the body?

A: Yes.

Q: Who called you in to examine the body?

A: I was called by Police Superintendent Alejo Estrada, the Station Commander of
Baguio City Police Office – Station 4, and he requested that I examined the body of the
victim who was later identified as Merlita Santiago Minggol.

Q: Can you describe the victim upon seeing it?

A: The victim has bruises all over her body and in her face and head.

Q: Can you please discuss the examination you conducted on the body?

A: I conducted a post-mortem examination of the body to determine the cause of death.

Q: Who was with you during the examination of the body?

A: Police Superintendent Alejo Estrada and another medical doctor, Dr. Maria Balaguer.

Q: What were your findings?

A: My findings are as follows:

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 The body is that of a fairly developed, fairly nourished Filipino female measuring
157 cm from crown to sole with an estimated body weight of 120-150 lbs.
 There is a fully developed rigor mortis in the face, jaw, upper extremities and
lower extremities, with a dark purple and fixed postmortem lividity at the
dependent posterior portions of the body.
 There is evidence of blunt force trauma in the right ear, both eyes and forehead:
 Linear abrasion, left frontal region, measuring 0.5 x 0.1 cm, 1 cm from the
anterior midline
 Contusion, right ear lobe, measuring 4.5 x 1.5 cm
 There is a ligature mark in the neck in the form of an inverted V-shaped abrasion
and contusion around the neck region, uninterrupted, measuring 34 x 1.5 cm, 0.5
cm deep, at the level of the thyroid cartilage anteriorly, directed slightly upward at
the left anterior neck region.
 The larynx and esophagus are markedly congested and cyanotic.
 The trachea is fractured and cyanotic.
 Contusions in the chest and abdomen.
 Contusions in the extremities: right arm, left arm, left forearm, right leg, left leg
and left thigh.

Q: Can you describe in detail the wounds inflicted in the victim.

A: When we say (1) rigor mortis, it is the stiffness of joints and muscular rigidity of a
dead body caused by depletion of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) in the tissues. (2)
Lividity or livor mortis is the settling of blood in the lower (dependent) portion of the
body, causing a purplish, red discoloration of the body. (3) Abrasion is a wound caused
by superficial damage to the skin, no deeper than the epidermis. It is less severe than a
laceration, and bleeding if present, is minimal. (4) Contusions are commonly known as
bruises. (5) Blunt force trauma refers to the physical trauma caused to a body part by a
physical attack.
The severity and magnitude of the contusions and injuries of the victim in the
different parts of her body shows that she suffered a great deal before she died.

Q: Based on your findings, what in your best knowledge cause the death of the victim?

A: The victim died of Asphyxia by ligature strangulation and subdural hematoma
secondary to blunt traumatic injury.

Q: Can you explain to us in layman terms the cause of death for the better understanding
of the court?

A: Asphyxia is the general term applied to all forms of violent deaths which results
primarily from the interference with the process of respiration or the condition in which
the supply of oxygen to the blood or to the tissues has been reduced below normal level.
One classification of asphyxia is strangulation by ligature or manual strangulation.
Ligature strangulation on the other hand is produced by compression of the neck
by means of a ligature which is tightened by a force other than the weight of the body.
Normally, the ligature is drawn tight by pulling the ends after crossing at the back of
front of the neck.
Subdural hematomas are usually the result of a serious head injury. When one
occurs in this way, it is called an "acute" subdural hematoma. Acute subdural hematomas
are among the deadliest of all head injuries. The bleeding fills the brain area very rapidly,
compressing brain tissue. This often results in brain injury and may lead to death.

Q: So based on your findings, the victim died because she was strangled to death after
she was hit with a blunt object in the head that caused the subdural hematoma?

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A: Yes.

Q: In your opinion, what instrument was used in the strangulation?

A: Based on the linear abrasion on the neck of the victim and the absence of any pattern,
the victim could have been strangled by a cloth like a necktie.

Q: Or straw ropes like this one?

(Presents the straw ropes spattered in blood that was recovered at the crime scene and
marked Exhibit “A”)

A: Yes.

Q: What about the blunt force injury?

A: Based on the irregular shape of the blunt force injury, it could be a rock or a wood or
any hard object.

(Present the rock spattered in blood recovered also at the crime scene and was marked
Exhibit “B”)

Q: Can a rock this size caused the blunt force injury and the subdural hematoma in the
A: Yes.

Q: Besides from the ligature in the neck and the blunt force injury to the head, what are
the other injuries incurred by the victim and any other findings?

A: There are a lot of contusions and hematoma in the arms, legs, chest and abdomen in
the body and in the face of the victim. Hematoma is the collection of blood outside of a
blood vessel which is normally caused by a trauma which can be head injuries, broken
bones or gunshot wounds. The contusions and hematoma in the victim was caused by
repeated blows to her body. The contusions in her legs and thigh are also indicative of the
fact that she was dragged helplessly around by her attacker. If you are looking at the
victim, the conclusion that would first come to your mind was that she was either mauled
by an animal or by a person with extra ordinary strength for her to sustain those kinds of

Q: Are there any signs that the victim defended herself?

A: Yes. Based on the contusions on the victim‟s right and left arm, she tried to ward off
the blows that were inflicted upon her by using her hand as a shield.

A: Based on your findings, can you say that the many different blows inflicted on the
victim which caused the contusions and hematoma so severe, brutal and grave so as to
make the victim suffer before she died? (to prove cruelty)

Q: Yes.

Q: Based on your findings, can you say that the severity of the blows inflicted and the
consequent blow to the head and strangulation could have been inflicted by a man with
an above average strength than normal men possess? (to prove advantage of superior

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A: Yes, only a man with a massive strength would be able to inflict the kind of injuries
like the victim had suffered in order to cause several contusions and hematoma to the
victim‟s body.

Q: Based on your findings, can you say that the infliction of several injuries to the
victim‟s body which was caused by repeated blows and dragging is disregard of the
respect due the victim as a woman who is already in her early 40‟s? (to prove disregard
of respect due the offended party on account of her sex and age).

A: Yes, only a person with no respect to a woman or the sanctity of human life could do
what he has done to the victim.

Q: Based on your findings, can you determine the time of death of the victim? (to prove

A: Based on the liver temperature of the victim and the fully developed rigor mortis on
the day that I examined the body, she was already dead for about 15 hours which makes
the time of death around one „o clock in the morning.

Q: Doctor, are you the one who prepared, issued and signed this medico-legal certificate?

A: Yes.

(Identification of the medico-legal certificate)

(Request for the marking of the certificate as Exhibit “C”)

- END -

Baguio City, Philippines, this 7
day of August 2013.

Assistant City Prosecutor


Mae Abegail I. Tabuzo
City Prosecutor