Former Marine in Philippines case claims innocence

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A former U.S. Marine facing murder charges in the Philippines denied that he entered a home and shot a couple at his extradition hearing Thursday.

Timothy Kaufman, formerly of Knoxville, Tenn., is one of three men charged by authorities in the Philippines with the 2011 killing of a retired Northern Ireland police officer and his girlfriend.

Handcuffed and wearing a green jail jumpsuit, Kaufman took the stand and told the court he was not involved in the killing of David Balmer, 54, and 26-year-old Elma de Guia. The couple was found dead on Sept. 2, 2011, in a bedroom of a home owned by a local club owner who was friends with Balmer.

“Did you go in their house?” asked defense lawyer Mark Sacco.

“No,” Kaufman answered.

“Did you shoot them?” Sacco asked.

“No,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman said he was in the Philippines helping a friend with an electronics company and helping at the U.S. Embassy. He did not elaborate.

Assistant U.S. attorney Rick Belliss told the judge there is sufficient evidence against Kaufman to meet the terms of the extradition treaty with the Philippines. Sacco cast doubt on testimony from a maid that incriminated Kaufman.

Magistrate Randolph Treece will issue a written decision sometime after July 12, the deadline for additional filings. Lawyers said the ultimate decision whether to extradite Kaufman will come from the secretary of state.

Kaufman, 35, was arrested in April near the Albany-area home of his grandfather, Sidney Kaufman. The younger Kaufman testified that he had had been living in the open before his arrest, working part-time as a bartender and holding a driver’s license.

Timothy Kaufman’s grandfather and father attended the hearing Thursday.

“This kid fought for his country,” his grandfather said after the hearing. “It’s about time his country fought for him.”

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