Man facing extradition for murder claims innocence

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A former U.S. Marine fighting extradition to the Philippines on charges of killing a couple said in a jailhouse letter professing his innocence that he would never do something “so heinous and stupid.”

Timothy Kaufman, 35, has been jailed since his arrest in April near at his grandfather’s Albany-area home. He 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. Philippine authorities seeking Kaufman’s return allege he took part in a premeditated killing in an area known for its sometimes-seamy club scene.

Kaufman, in a handwritten letter to the media sent from jail, adamantly rebutted the charges.

“Let me make it abundantly clear that I did not kill those people,” Kaufman wrote in a letter dated June 11. “I loved being in that country and I would not have done something so heinous and stupid to jeopardize myself there.”

An extradition hearing is scheduled in federal court in Albany June 25.

Kaufman described himself in the four-page letter as a “Jewish kid from Knoxville,” Tenn., who served in the Marines and loves his country. He said he went to the Philippines in April 2011 for some extended rest and relaxation.

The bodies of David Balmer, 54, and 26-year-old Elma de Guia were found dead on Sept. 2, 2011, in a bedroom in the Angeles City home of Richard Agnew, a club owner and friend of Balmer’s. Kaufman was charged with two counts of murder along with Joseph Tramontano, a fellow American, and Jesus Santos Jr., a Filipino, who police say was the driver.

Kaufman left before charges were filed against him. In the letter, he said he had feared for his safety in a country where “if a foreigner doesn’t have the money to pay then they are guilty.” He claims he would not get a fair trial if extradited.

“I am no shining example of how a man should be,” Kaufman wrote, “but I am also no murderer.”

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