Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, September 22, 2006

US soldier says colleague, Nicole 'were only making love'

ANOTHER US servicemen accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipino woman last year in a former US naval base took to the witness stand Thursday and denied the accusation saying that what he witnessed and heard between Lance Corporal Daniel Smith and the complainant was the "normal act of lovemaking."

Appearing before the sala of Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 139 Judge Benjamin Pozon, Lance Corporal Keith Silkwood said what he saw inside their rented van on the night on Nov. 1, 2005 was Smith and the complainant, given the pseudonym Nicole to hide her identity, kissing each other and that the sounds emanating from them sounds like they were having a "normal lovemaking".

"They were kissing, being flirtatious, kind of making out. I could hear what is going on, the sound of kissing and giggling," said Silkwood, adding that he didn't do anything to because "I think it was normal lovemaking and it's out of my business to intervene. I also didn't heard nor see anything to suggest she was struggling or fighting off Smith."

Nicole earlier told the court that she tried to fight off Smith but that she was too weak at the time and feeling dizzy after imbibing several glasses of liquor at the Neptune Bar where she met the accused and that he was too heavy for her.

He said when the Starex van driven by Timoteo Soriano reached the gate of the pier at the Subic Bay Freeport, the former base of the US 7th Fleet, where the amphibious assault ship, USS Essex was docked, he heard Smith telling Nicole that they don't have the time to finish the intercourse as they were in a hurry to beat the curfew and get back to the ship.

"I remembered hearing Smith saying he doesn't have the time to finish and I heard her say 'Are you already done'," said Silkwood in response to a question from defense counsel Jose Justiniano.

In his testimony last Monday, Smith told the court what he had testified that he indeed had sex with Nicole but insisted that it was consensual.

Another accused, Staff Sergeant Chad Brian Carpentier also told the same story when he testified last Tuesday, adding that Nicole is "a professional out to prey on the vulnerability of Smith."

The prosecution argued that she was too drunk at the time to give her consent. Nicole testified that it was Smith who allegedly raped her while his companions - Silkwood, Lance Corporal Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Brian Carpentier - egged him on.

Silkwood also denied the claim made by prosecution witness, Joseph Khungon last June that he saw him and Smith carry Nicole like a "pig" outside the van while they left in a hurry toward the ship.

"It was Duplantis who first exited the van and then me. She stepped out of the van and Smith gave her a hand but she stepped out on his own," stressed Silkwood when asked by Justiniano.

The defense said Silkwood's testimony would prove that their was no rape and that the complainant gave her consent but the prosecution said he was able to make their case strong as he had several "inconsistencies" during his nearly three hours of testimony.

Among the inconsistencies they pointed out is a different portion of his statement given to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and on the counter-affidavit he filed on Nov. 20, 2005, particularly his NCIS statement that said he talked to Lance Corporal Corey Burris, one of their companions at the bar when they saw Burris a pizza parlor while they were onboard the van returning to their ship.

That particular statement was not mentioned in the affidavit, the prosecution pointed out.

Meanwhile Nicole has formally filed before the court a manifestation stating her "complete lost of trust and the confidence in the panel of state prosecutors" and asked that it takes notice of her manifestation.

"I believe that they have lost all moral authority to represent me and the people's interest in the case," said Nicole who has not been attending the hearing since she and her mother walked out last week after expressing disgust with the prosecution's handling of the cross-examination of Smith.

She said the prosecution was too "lenient" on Smith and that they are "incompetent" to handle the case.

The incident resulted in a vicious spat as Senior State Prosecutor Emelie se Los Santos, who heads the prosecution panel, responded to Nicole and her mother's accusations and called them "liar" and "ingrates".

Nicole earlier asked Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. to replace the prosecution panel but the official rejected her request. Gonzalez later said he might replace the panel as he ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the allegation of Nicole's mother that de Los Santos talked to her about a settlement offer with the accused allegedly in exchange for the case of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante who is detained for immigration-related problem by US authorities, a claim that was denied by the government.

Bolante allegedly masterminded the "fertilizer scam" prior to the 2004 presidential election.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said the Subic rape case would not and could not be traded off for the case of Bolante.

Kenney assured that the US would continue to cooperate with the government in ensuring a smooth trial and eventually the resolution of the rape case.

She added that she understand the fears of the victim's family as their case is "very emotional and difficult".

"(But) the two cases are completely different, there's no connection. One is a case being tried for violation of a US law in the US and another is a case concerning an incident that happened in the Philippines, being tried in a Philippine court with a Philippine judge. There's simply no connection," she said.

Kenney, the first woman US ambassador to the Philippines, said the cases should just be allowed to "play out" in accordance with existing laws. (AH/JMR/Sunnex)


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