Exclusive: Philippine lawyer for Harry Doyle’s widow speaks about murder allegations

Harry Doyle and Jane Doyle are seen in an April 2011 photo posted on Facebook, The photo was taken in a guesthouse the couple owned, called Jane's Lodge, in Surigao City, Philippines. Facebook/Global News files

HALIFAX – Four people are suspected to be involved in the murder of Fredericton businessman Harry Doyle in the Philippines last month, but no arrest warrants have been issued yet.

It’s been almost a month since authorities in Surigao City said Doyle’s wife and driver had a hand in his brutal death.

He was gunned down late in the afternoon of Aug. 12 at a resort where he was spending time with family.

On Aug. 31, Philippine National Police (PNP) alleged that Erma Jane Udang Doyle, Harry Doyle’s 35-year-old wife, and their driver Jerome Devocion were having an “illicit relationship” and hired two gunmen to kill the 62-year-old businessmen.

The two suspected hitmen are brothers Jhonny and Jeffrey Parian. Police had named them as suspects five days earlier.

For the third time, there have been delays in officially laying charges in the case.

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The prosecutor and the lawyer defending Harry Doyle’s widow appeared in court in Surigao City Wednesday afternoon to submit more documents to move things forward, but the case is at a standstill for a few more weeks.

PNP Det. Rose Marie Almazan said in a phone interview the prosecution, representing the police, and the defence have both asked for more time.

Global News attempted to contact prosecutor Kristina Paat-Salumbides, but could not reach her.

Paat-Salumbides’ secretary confirmed the prosecution has asked for a 15-day extension to finish preparing affidavits, while the defence wanted another month to respond to the complaint.

Almazan said the lawyers will be back in court on Oct. 15.

Jane Doyle’s lawyer, Edmundo Zerda, asked for the one-month extension so he can obtain documents from Canada.

Exclusive: Jane Doyle’s lawyer speaks out

Global News spoke exclusively with Zerda on the phone Wednesday. He said the case against his clients – Jane Doyle and Jerome Devocion – is a part of a greater plot by those who have had it out for the Doyles.

Zerda has known the Doyles for a few months. The couple hired him as counsel for advice on their business – a guest house the husband and wife opened together, called Jane’s Lodge.

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Jane Doyle asked Zerda to represent her locally. She has also sought the counsel of a lawyer in Fredericton – Ron Morris.

Zerda reiterated that the investigation was still in its preliminary stages and no formal charges have been laid. Under Filipino law, suspects have a period of up to 15 days to respond to an official complaint before an arrest warrant is issued, he explained.

“It is very clear they have no case against Jane,” Zerda said. “I believe the police here have mishandled the case against Jane.”

He said the couple was already planning to return to Canada, after receiving several threats.

Harry Doyle had already been shot at earlier in the year: he recounted the incident on his Facebook page and even posted an image of him with a bullet hole in a window behind him.

No one was ever charged in the case, but Doyle had his suspicions.

A witness for one side, a suspect for others

Det. Almazan confirms an American man, James Musselwhite, is one of the PNP’s witnesses.

“Before, James and Harry and their families were friends – very close friends,” Almazan said.

They were close for about two years, but the friendship soured. When Doyle was shot at in February while inside his home, the Doyles said Musselwhite was behind the murder attempt.

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“When the investigation was conducted against James, we found out that James could have no resources … no financial capacity to hire a hitman,” Almazan said, adding Doyle never identified any possible gunman in that case.

But after Doyle’s murder, Musselwhite told police he witnessed Jane Doyle, Devocion and one of the alleged Parian brothers meeting at a restaurant in Surigao City in July.

Zerda dismissed the claim entirely, saying Musselwhite wasn’t in the resort area of Punta Bilar where Harry Doyle was shot five times on Aug. 12.

He says Musselwhite “implicated Jane” without having actually seen the alleged killer.

“The police showed him a photo of the alleged killers and from the photos he pointed out Jhonny Parian and claimed that on July 18, Jane and Mr. Parian were talking at Mario’s [a popular restaurant near City Hall].”

“At the time,” Zerda explained, “there were a lot of policemen there. And at the time Jane was accompanied by her son Joseph, the driver Jerome, and there was also a policeman with Jane as well.”

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“If you want to talk business with a killer, ostensibly to have your husband killed, why would you talk to him in a very public place and there are lots of people around … where many people can identify you later on?”

“You have to wonder about his accusation considering he is also a natural suspect,” Zerda said referring to the allegations Musselwhite was involved in the earlier attempt on Harry Doyle’s life.

Devocion, meanwhile, took to his Facebook page on Wednesday to flat out accuse Musselwhite of being the killer.

“JAMES MASLEWHITE THE KELLER OF MR HARRY DOYLE,” Devocion wrote above a picture of the Houston, Texas native.

Musselwhite’s side of the story

When asked about the tumultuous past he had with Harry Doyle and the accusations against him, Musselwhite sent a lengthy response to Global News to tell his side of the story.

In a message sent via Facebook, Musselwhite said, “The police investigated Harry’s claim that I was the shooter [in February]… 3 different times he tried to file that against me. The cops knew I was not a suspect. They either thought that Harry concocted the shooting for drama, of that Jane and the driver did it.”
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The American-expat said the whole claim is “ridiculous” and it was an attempt by Harry Doyle to discredit him amongst the foreigner community.

“I live a clean family life and have been completely honest with everyone, plus I live here on $7,000 a year. How the hell is this poor boy going to hire killers? It is ridiculous,” he said.

Harry Doyle and Musselwhite had known each other for two years before that, but they had a falling out over money.

He claims the Doyles had it out for him – and for more than just his reputation – after things went awry.

“The police never considered me a suspect, they suspected it was either staged or Jane was the suspect. My name was never entered on any police log, therefore the radio stations would never had gotten my name in the first place,” he said of the earlier accusations.

“I have had to stay mostly in my home and rarely venture out for the last seven months, and even now cannot because Jane and Jerome still want me dead.”

Despite alleging Jane Doyle is connected to her husband’s murder, Musselwhite says he’s trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. But he’s not taking her online accusation lightly.

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“Jane did it because she is desperate trying to get the investigators off her tail, and is trying to discredit me so she is trying to throw mud, but she is too stupid to realize it is a can of worms she really does not want opened,” he said.

Second witness not credible: Zerda

Martlaw Ortuina is another key witness for police and he was in Punta Bilar when Harry died.

Ortuina reportedly saw Devocion speaking with one of the Parians moments before the gunfire began.

Before Harry Doyle was shot dead, two men are said to have asked for food. Police said Doyle pushed one of the men and the other opened fire.

Zerda said the alleged killers first asked Devocion for food, but Doyle ordered him not to give them anything.

That’s the extent of Devocion’s interaction with the suspects, he said.

Ortuina’s statements to police are misleading, he said.

Waiting games and game changes

Zerda said the case is currently being presented on behalf of the police, but that could change.

He said the complaint against Jane Doyle and Devocion will be filed under the name of one of Harry Doyle’s sisters, adding that his family supposedly has evidence that will help the police case.

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Currently, the complaint is being filed under the name of PNP Senior Insp. Viomedes Cuadra.

Alamzon said police will request Jane Doyle to be extradited from Canada, if a warrant is issued. She is currently staying with a friend, Eva Montanez, in Fredericton. She arrived in the country on Aug. 25, the day after a local memorial was held in Harry Doyle’s honour.

Zerda said Jane isn’t hiding out in Canada, and already has plans to return to the Philippines.

But he said she is “not medically cleared to travel,” as her pregnancy reaches its final months and she is suffering quite a lot of distress.

Meanwhile, the three other suspects in the case all remain in the Philippines and their movements are being tracked by investigators, Almazan said.

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