- People v. Guzman y Bocbosila
- G.R. No. 169246
- CHICO-NAZARIO, J :
- Decision Date
G.R. No. 169246. January 26, 2007.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,vs.NICOLAS GUZMAN y BOCBOSILA, accused-appellant.
D E C I S I O N
CHICO-NAZARIO, J p:
Man is subject to innumerable pains and sorrows by the very condition of humanity, and yet, as if nature had not sown evils enough in life, we are adding grief to grief and aggravating the common calamity by our cruel treatment of one another. Joseph Addison.
The passage depicts the tragic fate of the deceased victim in the case at bar. His ultimate dream was to become a pilot so that he would have enough money to shoulder the schooling and education expenses of his younger siblings. Sadly, however, this dream will never become a reality as his young life was brutally snuffed out by certain violent individuals. He was a minor at the time of his death. Now his family is seeking justice for his untimely and senseless killing.
For review is the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. C.R.-H.C. No. 00095, dated 28 February 2005, affirming with modification the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 69, in Criminal Case No. Q-99-88737, dated 12 November 2001, finding accused-appellant Nicolas Guzman y Bocbosila guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder, sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua,and ordering him to pay the heirs of Michael Balber (Michael) the amount of P35,470.00 as actual damages, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, and P50,000.00 as moral damages.
On 29 November 1999, appellant was charged in an Information with Murder allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 25th day of November 1999 in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating with two other persons, whose true names/identities and whereabouts are still unknown, and mutually helping one another with intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and employ personal violence upon the person of one MICHAEL ANGELO BALBER Y CASTILLON, a minor, 17 years of age, by then and there stabbing him on the trunk with the use of a bladed weapon, thereby inflicting upon him serious and grave wound which was the direct and immediate cause of his untimely death to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of Michael Angelo Balber y Castillon. cCTaSH
When arraigned on 21 January 2000, appellant pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charge therein. Trial on the merits thereafter ensued.
In building its case against appellant, the prosecution relied on the testimonies of its witnesses, namely: Ronald Santiago (Ronald),Edgardo Bauto (Edgardo),Danilo Balber (Danilo),Police Inspector Alberto Malaza (Inspector Malaza),SPO3 Samuel Quinto (SPO3 Quinto),and Dr. Francisco Supe, Jr. (Dr. Supe).Their testimonies are summarized as follows:
Ronald is a jeepney driver and resident of Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City. He testified that on 25 November 1999, at about 9:00 in the evening, he stopped by and ate at a carinderia located at the corner of Sto. Nino Street and Mactan Street, Brgy. Commonwealth, Quezon City. After eating, he sat on a bench just beside the carinderia and rested. He noticed appellant and two other persons having a drinking spree in a nearby grocery store. He also saw Michael walking towards the direction of the same grocery store. When Michael was passing in front of the grocery store, appellant and his two companions suddenly approached and surrounded Michael. Appellant positioned himself at the back of Michael while his two companions stood in front of Michael. Suddenly, they grabbed the shoulders of Michael and overpowered the latter. One of appellant's companions, whom he described as a male with long hair, drew out a knife and repeatedly stabbed Michael at the stomach. Afterwards, the appellant's other companion, whom he described as a male with flat top hair, took the knife from the companion with long hair, and also stabbed Michael at the stomach. Later, appellant went in front of Michael, took the knife from the companion with flat top hair, and likewise stabbed Michael at the stomach. Appellant also kicked Michael when the latter was already lying on the ground. He witnessed this stabbing incident at a distance of five arms' length.
Afraid and confused, he immediately went home. The next day, however, he went to the house of Michael's family and narrated the incident to Michael's father, Danilo. Subsequently, he was accompanied by Danilo to the Batasan Hills Police Station 6 where he gave a statement about the incident.
Edgardo Bauto (Edgardo) is also a tricycle driver and resident of Brgy. Commonwealth, Quezon City. He narrated that on 25 November 1999, at around 9:00 in the evening, he was standing at the corner of Sto. Nino Street and Mactan Street, Brgy. Commonwealth, Quezon City, when he heard a female voice shouting "Sinasaksak!" When he glanced at the direction of the said shouts, he saw, at a distance of about five arms' length, appellant and the latter's two companions taking turns in stabbing Michael. One of the appellant's companions, whom he described as a toothless male with a long hair, was the first one to stab Michael. Afterwards, the appellant's other companion, whom he described as a male with flat top hair, took the knife from the toothless male with a long hair and stabbed Michael. Subsequently, appellant also took the knife from his companion with flat top hair and stabbed Michael too.
Thereafter, he immediately ran and proceeded to the house of Michael's family and informed Michael's parents about the incident. Michael's parents rushed to the crime scene and took Michael to a hospital. The next day, he was accompanied by Danilo and a certain Ramiro Alfaro to Batasan Hills Police Station 6 where he gave a statement about the incident.
Danilo, Michael's father, testified that on 25 November 1999, at about 9:00 in the evening, he was walking on his way home along the corner of Sto. Nino Street and Mactan Street, Brgy. Commonwealth, Quezon City, when he saw Michael lying along Sto. Nino Street. He also saw appellant and the latter's two male companions near Michael's body. When he was about to approach them, they immediately ran away. He chased and threw stones at them. Appellant and his two companions proceeded to the former's house and locked the door. He tried to follow them all the way to the house but appellant's relatives blocked his way to the door and told him to leave. Thereafter, he went back to Michael and took the latter to Fairview Hospital. He was later informed by the doctors that Michael was already dead.
The next day, he went to Batasan Hills Police Station 6 and gave a statement about the incident. In an effort to settle the instant case, appellant's wife and daughter told Danilo that they would sell a bus which they owned and would turn over to him the proceeds thereof. He also stated that Michael wanted to become a pilot so that, as the eldest of the children, he would be the one to shoulder the education of his siblings.
Inspector Malaza is a member of the police force assigned at Police Community Precinct No. 1, Batasan Hills, Quezon City. He testified that on 25 November 1999, at about 9:00 in the evening, he was on his way home on board his owner type jeep. Upon reaching the corner of Sto. Nino Street and Mactan Street, Brgy. Commonwealth, Quezon City, he noticed a commotion nearby. He slowed down his vehicle and saw, at a distance of five to ten meters, appellant stabbing and kicking Michael. He also noticed that the appellant's two companions were armed with bladed weapons. He alighted from his vehicle and approached appellant and his two companions. After introducing himself as a police officer, appellant and his two companions scampered away. He ran after them but caught only appellant. The two other companions of the appellant successfully escaped. Thereafter, he handcuffed appellant and brought him to Batasan Hills Police Station 6. He turned him over to a police investigator therein and executed an affidavit of arrest.
SPO3 Quinto is a police investigator at the Batasan Hills Police Station 6. He was the one who investigated the incident. After the incident was reported to his station on 26 November 1999, he immediately went to the crime scene upon the advice of the desk officer. Since Michael was already brought to Fairview Hospital at that time, he proceeded thereto. Upon arriving at the Fairview Hospital, he was informed that Michael was already dead. He then went back to the station and took the statements of the prosecution witnesses.
Dr. Supe is a medico-legal officer of the PNP Crime Laboratory, Camp Crame, Quezon City. He conducted the post mortem examination on Michael's body. His testimony evolved on the matters stated in the Medico-Legal Report No. M-3112-99, viz:
Fairly developed, fairly nourished male cadaver in rigor mortis with postmortem lividity at the dependent portions of the body. Conjunctivae are pale. Lips and nail beds are cyanotic. Needle puncture mark is noted on the dorsum of the right hand. There is fungal infection covering the entire groin and extending to the buttocks. HTCSDE
"HEAD AND NECK:
1.) Abrasion, left superior orbital region, measuring 0.2 x 0.7 cm, 3.7 cm, from the anterior midline.
2.) Lacerated wound, left lateral orbital region, measuring 0.5 x 0.8 cm, 5 cm from the anterior midline.
3.) Abrasion, right inferior orbital region, measuring 0.6 x 2 cm, 1 cm from the anterior midline.
"CHEST AND ABDOMEN:
1.) Abrasion, left inferior or mammary region, measuring 0.5 x 8.5 cm. along the anterior midline.
2.) Stab wound, thru and thru, point of entry, left coastal region, measuring 1 x 4 cm, 8 cm from the anterior midline, directed posteriorwards and medialwards making a point of exit at the left inferior mammary region, measuring 0.7 x 2.5 cm, 5 cm from the anterior midline, superficial.
3.) Stab wound, left subcostal region, measuring 0.7 x 2.3 cm, 14.2 cm from the anterior midline, 9 cm deep, directed posteriorwards, slightly upwards and medialwards, lacerating the mesentery, small intestine, left hemidiaphragm.
4.) Lacerated wound, thru and thru, point of entry, left inferior clavicular region, measuring 2 x 7 cm, 4.5 cm from the posterior midline, extending to the right inferior clavicular region and making a point of exit thereat, measuring 1 x 3 cm, superficial.
5.) Two and a half liters of blood and blood clots were evacuated from the abdominal cavity.
6.) The stomach is 250 ml full of billous fluid.
1.) Lacerated wound, distal third of the right arm, measuring 0.4 x 1 cm, 2.5 cm lateral to its anterior midline.
Cause of death is hemorrhage and shock secondary to multiple stab wounds of the trunk."
On the other hand, the defense presented the testimonies of appellant and Antonio Sulficiencia (Antonio) to disprove the foregoing charges.
Appellant testified that on 25 November 1999, at about 9:00 in the evening, he was inside his store located at No. 886 Mactan St. Brgy. Commonwealth, Quezon City, when he heard shouts outside. He peeped through the window of his store and saw Danilo and Ronald pulling out a certain Jesus de Guzman (Jesus) from the latter's tricycle. Danilo and Ronald punched Jesus but the latter retaliated. Thereafter, a rumble ensued. At the height of the brawl, he shouted 'Hoy! ano ba yan? Tama na yan! Itigil na ninyo yan! Awatin na ninyo yan." Minutes later, Michael passed by his store and inquired as to what was happening. He told Michael "Yung tatay mo at si Santiago (Ronald) pinagtulungan si Rommel." Michael rushed to Danilo and pacified the latter. Edgardo, one of the participants therein, threw stones at Michael. At this point, a certain Lemuel Grans Querubin (Lemuel) arrived and tried to join the fracas. Michael, however, blocked Lemuel's way. The two wrestled and both of them fell to the ground. Moments later, Lemuel stood up. Lemuel was holding a knife and his hands were bloodied. Michael, on the other hand, was still lying on the ground. Lemuel then chased Danilo and Ronald but the two were able to escape. Afterwards, Danilo, Ronald and five other persons returned to the scene. Danilo was carrying a big bolo while the others were armed with stones and lead pipe. Lemuel and Jesus ran towards the direction of Sto. Nino in order to escape.
Appellant went outside his house to observe the situation. Five minutes later, the group of Danilo, together with two policemen, proceeded to appellant's house. The policemen forcibly entered appellant's house and pushed the latter against the wall. They inquired as to the whereabouts of Lemuel and Jesus, who happened to be appellant's bus conductor and driver, respectively. When they could not find the two, the policemen invited him to the police station. Appellant told them "Bakit ninyo ako dadalhin? wala naman akong kinalaman diyan." From then on, the policemen held appellant in custody.
Antonio was a former bus driver of appellant and a resident of Para aque City. He narrated that on 25 November 1999, at about 9:00 in the evening, he parked a bus owned by appellant's cousin named Juanito Palmares (Juanito) just beside the appellant's store. He went to appellant's store and conversed with the latter who was inside the same store. Thereafter, he saw a rumble nearby. He ran and hid inside the parked bus while appellant stayed inside his store. Later, the participants of the rumble began to stone them. He alighted from the bus and went inside Juanito's house. He noticed that appellant was still inside the store. Subsequently, he saw Lemuel running and carrying a knife. He also heard Lemuel saying "Tapos na ang laban, manahimik na kayo." Thereupon, he saw appellant being apprehended by policemen in civilian clothes.
On 12 November 2001, the RTC rendered its Decision convicting appellant of murder. It sustained the "clear, direct and positive" testimony of the prosecution witnesses who all declared that they saw appellant stab Michael. It found no ill-motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses in testifying against appellant. It also ruled that there was treachery in the killing of Michael since the latter was unarmed, unsuspecting and very young at the time of the attack. In ending, the RTC held:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered finding accused Nicolas Guzman Y Bocbosila guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder qualified by treachery. Accordingly, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and further ordered to pay the heirs of the late Michael Angelo Balber the sum of Thirty-Five Thousand Four hundred Seventy Pesos (P35,470.00),Philippine Currency, as actual damages, excluding the Six Thousand Pesos (P6,000.00) Bagbag Cemetery as there was no evidence to justify the award of the same; Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00),as moral damages and the additional civil indemnity of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00).
Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal on 26 November 2001. On 28 February 2005, the Court Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming with modification the RTC Decision. The modification pertains only to the penalty imposed by the RTC, thus:
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 89, in Criminal Case No. Q-99-88737 is hereby AFFIRMED in all respects except that the sentence be RECLUSION PERPETUA only.
On automatic review before us, appellant assigned the following errors of the lower court:
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER DESPITE THE PALPABLE DISCREPANCIES AND INCONSISTENCIES IN THE TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING EXCULPATORY WEIGHT TO THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE DEFENSE.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT ALLOWING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO PRODUCE SUBSTITUTE OR ADDITIONAL WITNESSES FOR HIS DEFENSE. acAESC
ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT CAN BE HELD LIABLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE VICTIM, THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY.
Anent the first issue, appellant claims that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses should not be given any weight as the same are filled with discrepancies and inconsistencies. According to him, Ronald and Edgardo testified that appellant and his two companions used only one knife in stabbing Michael. Inspector Malaza, however, declared that appellant and his two companions were armed with separate knives during the stabbing incident. He also avers that Inspector Malaza gave contradicting versions of how the latter apprehended him after the incident. Further, Edgardo testified that after the incident, he immediately went to the house of Michael and informed Danilo of what he witnessed. Danilo, however, declared that while he was on his way home, he saw Michael lying at the corner of Sto. Nino St. and Mactan St.,and, that the malefactors were running away.
Appellant's contention is bereft of merit.
A witness testifying about the same nerve-wracking incident can hardly be expected to be correct in every detail and consistent with other witnesses in every respect, considering the inevitability of differences in perception, recollection, viewpoint, or impressions, as well as in their physical, mental, emotional, and psychological states at the time of the reception and recall of such impressions. Thus, we have followed the rule in accord with human nature and experience that honest inconsistencies on minor and trivial matters serve to strengthen, rather than destroy the credibility of a witness, especially of witnesses to crimes shocking to conscience and numbing to senses.
The inconsistencies cited by appellant refer to minor and unimportant details which do not adversely affect the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. Although the testimony of Ronald and Edgardo as to the number of knives used in the stabbing incident differs with that of Inspector Malaza, all of them declared under oath during the trial that appellant stabbed Michael.
Thus, as aptly stated by the Court of Appeals, such inconsistency should not be considered as a "fatal error," since what is important and decisive is that they had seen appellant stab Michael and that they testified on the fact during the trial.
Besides, their testimonies on material and relevant points are substantially consistent with each other. They testified that three persons, among whom was the appellant, had stabbed Michael. Their descriptions of the faces, physical attributes, and respective positions of appellant and his two companions during the attack are compatible. They also stated that appellant was the last person who stabbed Michael.
As regards the alleged inconsistent testimony of Inspector Malaza as to how the latter apprehended the appellant, it should be borne in mind that the weight of the eyewitness account should be on the fact that the witness saw the accused commit the crime and was positive of the latter's physical identification. Inspector Malaza had seen appellant stab Michael, and, in fact, apprehended him right after the incident. Hence, the details on the manner by which Inspector Malaza apprehended the appellant would be immaterial and irrelevant.
Appellant asserts that the testimony of Danilo runs counter to the testimony of the other prosecution witnesses. Even if we were to disregard as evidence for the prosecution the testimony of Danilo, the categorical and credible testimonies of the other prosecution witnesses are sufficient to support the finding of guilt on the part of appellant. It should be emphasized that the testimony of one eyewitness would be enough to support a conviction provided it is positive, credible, clear and straightforward.
Apropos the second issue, appellant denied any liability and invoked alibi. He argued that he was inside his store when the stabbing incident occurred, and, that it was Lemuel who stabbed Michael. He also presented Antonio to corroborate his testimony. IHCESD
For alibi to prosper, it is not enough for the accused to prove that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed. He must likewise prove that it is physically impossible for him to be present at the crime scene or its immediate vicinity at the time of its commission. If appellant was, as he claimed, inside his store at the time of the incident, then it was not physically impossible for him to be at the crime scene or in its immediate vicinity. His store is located just beside Mactan Street, and that he witnessed the incident at a distance of merely five arms' length from his store. Therefore, his defense of alibi must fail.
Antonio testified that he and appellant, who was inside his store, were having a conversation when the incident occurred. A perusal of the records, however, shows that appellant did not mention anything about such conversation. In fact, appellant did not even mention the name of Antonio in his entire testimony. Given the foregoing, the testimony of Antonio cannot be considered as credible.
In arguing the third issue, appellant avers that his constitutional rights to produce evidence on his behalf and to due process were violated when the trial court denied the motion of his counsel to present substitute witnesses.
In the Pre-Trial Order of the RTC dated 29 February 2000, the defense named only four witnesses, to wit: Antonio, Lizardo Dedase, Eduardo Bidia, and accused himself. In the same order, the RTC stated the following:
All parties are informed that witnesses and documents which were not mentioned in this pre-trial order shall not be entertained during the trial on the merits.
During the trial, only appellant and Antonio were able to testify. When the two other witnesses in the pre-trial order, namely, Lizardo Dedase and Eduardo Bidia, failed to appear and testify in court several times, the defense counsel moved to substitute them explaining that they were hesitant to testify, and, that one of them went home to his province.
The RTC was correct in denying the defense counsel's motion for substitution of witnesses since Section 4, Rule 118 of the
SEC. 4. Pre-trial order. After the pre-trial conference, the court shall issue an order reciting the actions taken, the facts stipulated, and evidence marked. Such order shall bind the parties, limit the trial to matters not disposed of, and control the course of the action during the trial,unless modified by the court to prevent manifest injustice (Italics supplied).
The pre-trial order of the RTC dated 29 February 2000 clearly shows that the defense named only four witnesses. The parties were also informed therein that witnesses who were not mentioned in the pre-trial order will not be entertained during the trial on the merits. Thus, pursuant to the afore-stated provision and its purpose of preventing undue delay in the disposition of criminal cases and ensuring fair trial, the denial of the defense counsel's motion for substitution of witnesses is justified. Moreover, if appellant's motion for substitution of witnesses is given due course, it will amount to an unreasonable disregard of solemn agreements submitted to and approved by the court of justice and would make a mockery of the judicial process.
This is not to say, however, that such provision is absolute. It can be relaxed in the greater interest of justice. Nevertheless, the exception does not apply in favor of appellant as the RTC had observed that his motion for substitution of witnesses appears to be a "fishing expedition" of evidence which is clearly unfair to the case of the prosecution. Moreover, as aptly stated by the Solicitor General, if the two other witnesses of appellant were indeed afraid or hesitant to testify, he should have moved the RTC to subpoena the said witnesses to testify in court pursuant to his constitutional right to compulsory process to secure the attendance of his witnesses. Unfortunately, appellant did not avail himself of this remedy.
As to the fourth issue, appellant contends that even if he were held liable for the death of Michael, there was no treachery which will qualify the killing as murder. According to him, there is no evidence to show that appellant and his two companions had deliberately and consciously adopted their mode of attack to ensure its execution without risk to themselves. The stabbing incident occurred in a place that was properly lighted. There were many people in the area then walking in different directions. He claims that if he and his two companions wanted to ensure that no risk would come to them, then they could have chosen another time and place to attack Michael. IAETDc
Treachery is a sudden and unexpected attack under the circumstances that renders the victim unable and unprepared to defend himself by reason of the suddenness and severity of the attack. It is an aggravating circumstance that qualifies the killing of a person to murder. Article 14, paragraph (16) of the
ART. 14. The following are aggravating circumstances:
xxx xxx xxx
16. That the act be committed with treachery (alevosia).
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means, methods, or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.
As can be gleaned from the foregoing, two essential elements/conditions are required in order that treachery may be appreciated: (1) The employment of means, methods or manner of execution that would ensure the offender's safety from any retaliatory act on the part of the offended party, who has, thus no opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; (2) deliberate or conscious choice of means, methods or manner of execution. Further, it must always be alleged in the information and proved in trial in order that it may be validly considered.
In the instant case, treachery was alleged in the Information against appellant. Moreover, all the essential elements/conditions of treachery were established and proven during the trial.
After attending a worship service at the Iglesia ni Kristo church in his barangay, Michael proceeded home. While Michael was casually walking along the corner of Sto. Nino Street and Mactan Street, appellant and his two companions, who were drinking nearby, suddenly approached and surrounded Michael. Appellant positioned himself at the back of Michael while his two companions stood in front of Michael. In an instant, they grabbed the shoulders of Michael and overpowered the latter. One of the appellant's companions, whom the prosecution witnesses described as a male with long hair, drew out a knife and repeatedly stabbed Michael on the stomach. Unsatisfied, the appellant's other companion, whom the prosecution witnesses described as a male with flat top hair, took the knife and stabbed Michael on the stomach. As the finale, appellant went in front of Michael, took the knife and also stabbed Michael on the stomach. When Michael fell on the ground, appellant kicked him at the body. Upon noticing that the bloodied Michael was no longer moving, appellant and his two companions fled the scene.
As viewed from the foregoing, the suddenness and unexpectedness of the attack of appellant and his two companions rendered Michael defenseless, vulnerable and without means of escape. It appears that Michael was unarmed and alone at the time of the attack. Further, he was merely seventeen years of age then. In such a helpless situation, it was absolutely impossible for Michael to escape or to defend himself against the assault of appellant and his two companions. Being young and weak, Michael is certainly no match against adult persons like appellant and his two companions. Michael was also outnumbered since he had three assailants, and, was unarmed when he was stabbed to death. Appellant and his two companions took advantage of their size, number, and weapon in killing Michael. They also deliberately adopted means and methods in exacting the cruel death of Michael by first surrounding him, then grabbing his shoulders and overpowering him. Afterwards, each of them repeatedly stabbed Michael with a knife at the stomach until the latter fell lifeless to the ground. The stab wounds sustained by Michael proved to be fatal as they severely damaged the latter's large intestine.
The fact that the place where the incident occurred was lighted and many people were walking then in different directions does not negate treachery. It should be made clear that the essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack on an unsuspecting victim without the slightest provocation on his part. This is even more true if the assailant is an adult and the victim is a minor. Minor children, who by reason of their tender years, cannot be expected to put up a defense. Thus, when an adult person illegally attacks a minor, treachery exists. As we earlier found, Michael was peacefully walking and not provoking anyone to a fight when he was stabbed to death by appellant and his two companions. Further, Michael was a minor at the time of his death while appellant and his two companions were adult persons. IECcAT
With regard to the allegation in the Information that the killing of Michael was attended by an aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation, the RTC and the Court of Appeals were correct in disregarding the same against appellant. The essence of evident premeditation as an aggravating circumstance is that the execution of the criminal act was preceded by cool thought and reflection upon the resolution to carry out the criminal intent during a space of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment. It implies a deliberate planning of the crime before executing it. It must also be shown how and when the plan to kill was hatched or what time elapsed before it was carried out. Further, there must be proof that the accused meditated and reflected on his intention between the time when the crime was conceived by him and the time it was actually perpetrated. In the case at bar, there is no evidence to show that appellant and his two companions had previously planned and reflected in killing Michael. When appellant and his two companions saw Michael on that fateful night, they immediately pounced on him. The thought of killing Michael came into the minds of appellant and his two companions only when they saw Michael walking on the road. Indeed, the killing of Michael was sudden and unplanned.
On another point, we agree with the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals. Article 248 of thereclusion perpetua to death. Article 63 of the samereclusion perpetua should be imposed. As regards the damages awarded by the Court of Appeals, we rule that the sum of P35,470.00 as actual damages should be reduced to P25,670.00 since the receipts on record amounts only to P25,670.00. It is well-settled that only expenses supported by receipts will be allowed for actual damages. Furthermore, exemplary damages should also be awarded to the heirs of Michael since the qualifying circumstance of treachery was firmly established by the prosecution. If a crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance, either qualifying or generic, an award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of the This kind of damage is intended to serve as a deterrent to serious wrongdoings, and as a vindication of undue sufferings and wanton invasion of the rights of an injured person or punishment for those guilty of outrageous conduct.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. C.R.-H.C. No. 00095 dated 28 February 2005 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Appellant is hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder, for which, he is accordingly sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.Appellant is further ordered to pay the heirs of Michael P25,670.00 as actual damages; P50,000.00 as moral damages; P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for Michael's death; and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. TIaCAc
Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez and Callejo, Sr.,JJ., concur.
1. Penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza with Associate Justices Romeo A. Brawner and Edgardo P. Cruz, concurring; rollo,pp. 3-15.
2. Penned by Judge Elsa I. De Guzman; CA rollo,pp. 29-40.
3. CA rollo,p. 13.
4. Records, pp. 14-15.
5. TSN, 3 August 2000, pp. 2-11.
6. Id. at 8-11.
7. TSN, 15 August 2000, pp. 2-4.
8. Id. at 4-6.
9. TSN, 21 November 2000, pp. 2-7.
10. Id. at 8-16.
11. TSN, 4 December 2000, pp. 17-23.
12. TSN, 12 February 2001, pp. 2-5.
13. TSN, 14 February 2001, pp. 2-16.
14. Records, pp. 172-172-A.
15. TSN, 28 May 2001, pp. 2-15.
16. Id. at 15-20.
17. Id. at 2-12.
18. Supra note 2 at 39.
19. Records, p. 161.
20. Supra note 1 at 14.
21. CA rollo,pp. 63-64.
22. ,G.R. No. 156786, 3 June 2004, 430 SCRA 609, 615.
23. ,G.R. No. 157669, 14 April 2004, 427 SCRA 673, 681-682.
24. ,G.R. No. 142855, 17 March 2004, 425 SCRA 627, 641.
25. ,G.R. No. 143718, 19 May 2004, 428 SCRA 478, 495.
26. ,G.R. No. 138937, 20 January 2004, 420 SCRA 259, 274.
27. TSN, 28 May 2001, p. 7.
28. Id. at 8.
29. Records, pp. 18-19.
31. TSN, 29 September 2001, p. 4.
32. Supra note 29.
33. CA rollo,p. 110.
34. Article III, Section 14 (2) of the
35. ,G.R. No. 127492, 16 January 2004, 420 SCRA 37, 49.
36. Rule 110, Sections 8 and 9 of the
37. Supra note 3.
38. Records, p. 164 (Exh. C).
39. Supra notes 13 and 14.
40. ,G.R. No. 137347, 4 March 2004, 424 SCRA 655, 674.
42. ,G.R. No. 133027, 4 March 2004, 424 SCRA 620, 643.
43. People v. Penones,G.R. No. 71153, 16 August 1991, 200 SCRA 624, 635.
44. ,No. L-32078, 30 September 1974, 60 SCRA 89, 95.
45. Records, pp. 165-A (Exh. E) and 166 (Exh. F).
46. ,G.R. No. 155256, 30 July 2004, 435 SCRA 610, 623.
47. ,G.R. No. 130684, 5 February 2004, 422 SCRA 73, 90. HCcaTS
48. ,G.R. No. 130531, 27 May 2004, 429 SCRA 330, 356.
49. ,G.R. Nos. 148939-40, 13 February 2004, 422 SCRA 620, 643.