Criminal Law Digests – August 2000
PEOPLE V. FRANCISCO VILLANOS
G.R. NO. 126648
Accused was convicted of rape. The victim was raped when unconscious.
In cases where the victim is raped in a state of unconsciousness, the fact of sexual assault and the identity of the assailant can be established from the events preceding or following the victim’s loss of consciousness. True, there was no test conducted to determine the presence of any sedative or drug in the drinks given to the victims which caused them to lose momentarily control of their faculties. But this is of little consequence as the same is not an indispensable element in a prosecution for rape. Under the circumstances, it suffices that the victim was found to have been unconscious at the time the offender had carnal knowledge of her.
PEOPLE V. BLAS ROSARIO
G.R. NO. 122769
Accused were convicted of murder. Defense assails credibility of prosecution’s lone witness.
Assessment of the credibility of witnesses lies within the province and competence of the trial courts. Appellate courts will not disturb the credence, or lack of it, accorded by the trial court to the testimonies of the witnesses, unless it be clearly shown that the latter could have overlooked or disregarded arbitrarily the facts and circumstances of significance in the case. In the case at bar, the findings of the trial court are supported by substantial evidence.
PEOPLE V. PONCIANO AGLIPA
G.R. NO. 130941
Accused was found guilty of murder and frustrated murder. Defense interposed self-defense.
The burden of proof shifts to the person invoking self-defense, who, with clear and convincing evidence must establish all the following requisites: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; (c) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person claiming self-defense. Upon failure to establish these requisites, conviction is inevitable because the accused, by setting up self-defense, admits being the author of the killing.
PEOPLE V. RAMWELL LOMIBAO
G.R. NO. 135855
Accused was convicted of raping his 11 year old daughter. Defense interposed denial.
Defense of alibi is the weakest of all defenses for it is easy to contrive and difficult to prove. A positive identification of the accused made by an eyewitness prevails over such a defense. The denial of the accused cannot prevail over the categorical testimony of the victim that he raped her. The absence of convincing evidence showing any improper motive on the part of the principal witness for the prosecution strongly tends to sustain the conclusion that no such improper motive exists, and that their testimonies are worthy of full faith and credit. Even if the victim was not familiar with the precise date of the commission of the offense and the time of its occurrence, this fact does not convince the court that she was not raped by him. The date of commission of the rape is not an essential element of the crime. However, since relationship was not alleged in the information, death sentence cannot be imposed in the absence of the qualifying circumstance.
PEOPLE V. ELMER FEGIDERO
G.R. NO. 113446
Accused was convicted of robbery with homicide. He was committed based on circumstantial evidence.
Direct evidence of the commission of a crime is not the only matrix wherefrom a trial court may draw its conclusion and finding of guilt. Circumstantial evidence suffices to convict if the ff. elements are present: (1) there is more than one circumstance; (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; (3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. A judgment of conviction based on circumstantial evidence can be sustained only when the circumstances proved form an unbroken chain which leads to a fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of all others, as the culprit. In the case at bar, the combination of all the circumstancial evidence presented established the participation of the accused in the robbery and death of the victim.
PEOPLE V. CRISPIN CANONIGO
G.R. NO. 133649
Accused was convicted of statutory rape committed against an 11 year old girl in full view of the latter’s 5 year old sister. Death was imposed.
Death cannot be imposed. In the case at bar, the attendant aggravating circumstance that the victim was raped in full view of a relative within the third civil degree of consanguinity was not alleged in the information filed against the accused. Further, trial court erred in considering this as statutory rape. To effectively prosecute for statutory rape, its elements must be set out in the complaint or information to apprise the accused of the crime of which he is being charged. The gravamen of the offense of statutory rape is in having carnal knowledge with a girl under 12 years of age. In the case a bar, although it was established during the trial that the victim was only 11 years old at the time the crime was committed, the information filed against the accused charged him with having carnal knowledge of a girl who is 12 years of age.
PEOPLE V. BERNALDO DOCDOC
G.R. NO. 134679
Accused was convicted of rape.
There is an absence of physical evidence to corroborate victim’s claim of resistance. Verily, the law does not impose on the rape victim the burden of proving resistance where force was used on her. However, in the case at bar, where the victim’s narration of the rape incident is open to doubt and does not jibe with human experience, physical evidence of bruises and scratches on her face or arms which were allegedly pinned behind her back would have spoken louder than words.
PEOPLE V. DELANO MENDIOLA
G.R. NO. 134846
Accused was convicted of raping his 5 year old daughter.
A rape victim who testifies in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner and remains consistent is a credible witness. The lone testimony of the victim, which if credible and free from any serious and material contradictions, as in this case, is enough basis for the accused’s prosecution and conviction.
PEOPLE V. JOCELYN ACBANGIN
G.R. NO. 117216
Accused was convicted of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Two days after the taking of the child, she informed the child’s parents of the whereabouts of the child.
In cases of kidnapping, if the person detained is a child, the question is whether there was actual deprivation of the child’s liberty and whether it was the intention of the accused to deprive the parents of the custody of the child. The child in this case was deprived of liberty. True, she was treated well, however, there is still kidnapping. For there to be kidnapping, it is not necessary that the victim be placed in an enclosure. It is enough that the victim is restrained from going home. The intention to deprive the child’s parents of her custody is indicated by the accused’s hesitation for 2 days to disclose the whereabouts of the child and more so by her actual taking of the child. Accused’s motive at this point is not relevant. It is not an element of the crime. The fact that she later on felt remorse and showed the child’s parents where the former was, cannot absolve her. At that point, the crime was consummated.
The testimony of the child is also credible. A witness’ young age will not deter him or her from being a competent and credible witness. To be a competent child witness, the following must be met: (a) capacity of observation; (b) capacity of recollection; (c) capacity of communication
PEOPLE V. VIVENCIO LABUGUEN
G.R. NO. 127849
Accused was convicted of robbery with homicide. Defense interposed denial and alibi. He was convicted based on circumstantial evidence.
Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if: (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. In this case, the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses spawn and generate facts which constitute an unbroken chain of events leading to the inevitable conclusion of guilt on the part of the appellant.
PEOPLE V. POTENCIANO ARCO
G.R. NO. 132062
Accused was convicted of raping a 10 year old child. Defense interposed alibi.
Not only was accused’s alibi weak, it also did not rule out the possibility of his having committed the crime. It was not physically impossible therefore, for the accused to be at the crime scene, rape the victim and go back to his work.
PEOPLE V. AGAPITO AGRAVANTE
G.R. NO. 119955
Accused was convicted of raping a 14 year old retardate. He contends that victim’s testimony is unreliable because of her mental capacity or state of mind.
A mental retardate is not for this reason alone disqualified from being a witness. In this case, the victim was able to intelligently make known such perceptions or narrate them truthfully despite the grueling examination by both prosecutor and defense counsel.
PEOPLE V. PEDRO DUCTA
G.R. NO. 13460
Accused was convicted of raping a 43 year old retarded woman.
State of mental retardation of a victim of rape can be established by evidence other than the medical findings of a specialist. So also, the court has said that a woman need not be completely deprived of reason for sexual intercourse by a man with her to constitute the crime of rape. The term “deprived of reason” has been construed to include the feeble-minded although coherent and those suffering from mental deficiency or some form of mental disorder. Further, a mental retardate who has the ability to make known her perceptions is still a competent witness.
PEOPLE V. MARIO MYRNO TAN
G.R. NO. 120672
Accused was found guilty of estafa. Appellant contends that the prosecution failed to sufficiently prove that the merchandise he ordered were delivered to and received by him or his authorized representatives. Thus, he argues, he cannot be held liable for estafa since he was not able to obtain the goods from the private complainant by means of the check he issued.
Art 315 (2)(d) of the RPC penalizes any person who shall defraud another by postdating a check or issuing a check in payment of an obligation when the offender has no funds in the bank. The transaction between the parties here is in the nature of contract of sale. The contract of purchase and sale is reciprocal and from it arises not only the obligation to deliver the thing but also that of paying the price. In this case, there is no ample proof that appellant or his representatives ever received the merchandise. Since no damage was sustained by complainant in as much as appellant received nothing of value from the complainant, appellant cannot be held guilty of estafa. He had no obligation to pay or to make good the issued check.
PEOPLE V. PEDRO GABIANA
G.R. NO. 123543
Accused was convicted of raping an 11 year old girl. Appellant interposed the defense of denial and alibi.
Basic is the rule that alibi which is easy to concoct cannot prevail over the positive identification by the witnesses. What is more, appellant utterly failed to prove that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the approximate time of his commission.
PEOPLE V. IAN CONTRERAS
G.R. NO. 137123-34
Accused was convicted of raping several children. On appeal to CA, the accused escaped from jail.
His appeal should be dismissed. He cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the Court to seek a review of his conviction after he has made a mockery of the judicial process by escaping from prison. However, this does not affect the review in criminal cases where death penalty had been imposed because review in such case is not only automatic but also mandatory.
PEOPLE V. AGUSTIN AGPAWAN
G.R. NO. 123853
Accused was convicted of murder. Conspiracy and treachery were found by court.
Conspiracy exists when 2 or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Proof of the agreement need not rest on direct evidence as the same may be inferred from the conduct of the parties indicating a common understanding among them with respect to the commission of the offense. Conspiracy was established in the instant case by the concerted and synchronized actions of the accused and his companions in carrying out the ambush. Treachery was also correctly appreciated as the method employed in the execution of the crime ensured no risk to the assailants arising from the defense which their victims might put up.
PEOPLE V. FELIX ANTIDO
G.R. NO. 129217
The 2 accused were convicted of murder. Defense questions adequacy of evidence and finding of treachery.
One of the witnesses is a victim himself having been stabbed by the appellant. As such, his testimony, standing alone, can be made the basis of accused’s prosecution and conviction, if such testimony meets the test of credibility. The matter of accuracy of the identification by the victim of the offenders is a factual issue resolved by the trial court which should be given weight on appeal, unless there are convincing indications that certain facts or circumstances of weight and significance have been overlooked. An unexpected and sudden attack under circumstances which render the victim unable and unprepared to defend himself by reason of the suddenness and severity of the attack constitutes alevosia and the fact that the act was frontal does not preclude the presence of treachery.
PEOPLE V. ROBERTO BANIHIT
G.R. NO. 132045
Accused was convicted of raping his 9 year old niece. He contends that death penalty should not be imposed since the information accuse him of rape under Art 335 par 3 which is punishable by reclusion perpetua.
What is controlling in an information should not be the title of the complaint, nor the designation of the offense charged or the particular law or part thereof allegedly violated, these being, by and large, mere conclusions of law made by the prosecutor, but the description of the crime charged and the particular facts therein cited. The real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or preamble of the information nor from the specification of the law allegedly violated, but from the actual recital of facts alleged in the body of the information. However, the relationship to the victim, while proven by competent evidence, was not sufficiently alleged in the information.
PEOPLE V. RENATO PUZON
G.R. NO. 123156-59
Accused was found guilty of statutory rape for raping his own daughters. The victims testified that appellant was not able to insert his penis into their vagina because they kept on moving in an effort to evade the sex organ of the appellant. However, they recounted that the penis of appellant touched the lips of their vagina and they felt pain in the process. The information indicted him for the crime of rape with force and intimidation under par 1 of Art. 335, although the prosecutor established that complainants were below 12 years old at the time of the rape.
Conviction of appellant for statutory rape absent any allegation in the information that the complainants were below 12 years old at the time of the rape and not for rape through force or intimidation which was the method alleged would violate the right of the appellant to be informed of the nature of the accusation against him, which right is granted by the Constitution. Convicting appellant of a crime not alleged while he is concentrating his defense against the offense alleged would be unfair and underhanded.
However, the force or intimidation employed by the culprit and resistance put up by the victim are not necessary for the conviction of the perpetrator. In incestuous rape, the absence of violence or offer of resistance by the victim would not matter because of the overpowering and overbearing moral ascendancy by the father over his daughter. Lack of penetration cannot exculpate appellant. Settled is the rule that complete penetration is not essential. The slightest touching of the lips of the female organ or labia of the pudendum constitutes rape.
PEOPLE CARLOS MENEQUE
G.R. NO. 129964-65
Accused was convicted of 2 counts of murder. Accused invoked self-defense.
A plea of self-defense automatically shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense since such a plea means that the accused admits to having performed the criminal act, but disclaims legal liability on the ground that his life had been exposed to harm first before he committed the act in defense of himself. Thus, when the accused invokes self-defense, he must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the prosecution’s evidence, for even if the latter were weak, it could not be disbelieved after the accused’s open admission of responsibility for the killing. In the case at bar, apart from self-serving statements, appellant’s testimony is uncorroborated by independent and competent evidence, thus cannot be given weight.
PEOPLE V. SEGUNDO CANO
G.R. NO. 130631
Accused was convicted of 2 counts of rape committed against his 15 year old daughter. He assails delay in filing of complaint and interposed alibi as defense.
By itself, delay in prosecuting rape is not an indication of fabricated charges. The charge is only rendered doubtful if the delay was unreasonable and unexplained.
PEOPLE V. MARIO LACBAYAN
G.R. NO. 125006
The 2 accused were convicted of murder. In their defense, appellants denied any knowledge of the incident. They assail the credibility of prosecution witnesses by pointing to alleged inconsistencies.
It is perfectly natural for different witnesses testifying on the occurrence of a crime to give varying details as there may be some details which one witness may notice while the other may not observe or remember. In fact, jurisprudence even warns against a perfect dove tailing of narration by different witnesses as it could mean that their testimonies were prefabricated and rehearsed. Finally, a careful examination of the evidence on record shows that while the prosecution witnesses differ in their narration of trivial details like those mentioned on appeal, they did not waver in their identification of the appellants as the perpetrators of the crime.
PEOPLE V. CESAR MELENDRES
G.R. NO. 133999-4001
Accused was convicted of 3 counts of rape committed against the 11 year old daughter of his common law wife. He contends that accused and complainant were actually lovers.
In rape cases falling under Art 335 (3) – when the woman is under 12 years of age or is demented, 2 elements must be established to hold the accused guilty of rape: (1) that the accused had carnal knowledge of a woman; (2) that the woman is below 12 years of age. Proof of consent of the woman is immaterial. Sexual intercourse with a woman below 12 years old is statutory rape. Her consent to the intercourse is involuntary because she is considered to have no will of her own.
Criminal Law Digests
Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001