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Criminal Law One Case Digests

G.R. No. L-39086 October 26, 1934


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ONG CHIAT LAY, ET AL., defendants.
ONG CHIAT LAY, appellant.

Facts:

Ong Chiat Lay, Ong Ban Hua and Kua Sing, were jointly informed against by the provincial fiscal of
Zamboanga, charging them with having feloniously burned a building in which was located a store
belonging to Ong Chiat Lay. Upon a plea of "not guilty," defendants were tried jointly upon said
information; and, after trial, while Ong Ban Hua and Kua Sing were acquitted, Ong Chiat Lay was found
guilty of the crime of arson. Hence, the appeal.

Issue:

Whether the appellant is criminally liable as principal by direct participation.

Held:

In order to convict a defendant as principal in the commission of a crime, it must be shown either (1) that
he took a direct part in the execution of the criminal act; (2) that he directly forced or induced another or
others to commit it; or (3) that he cooperated in the commission of the offense by an act without which
it would not have been accomplished. (Revised Penal Code, article 17.) They take direct part in the
execution of a criminal act who, participating in the criminal design, proceed to carry out their plan and
personally take part in its execution by acts which directly tend to the same end. (Viada, Codigo Penal, 5th
ed., vol. 1, p. 341; Albert's Revised Penal Code Ann., 144.)

In the instant case, it is not claimed that appellant had taken a direct part in the burning of the building.
In fact, the prosecution lays stress on appellant's absence from the scene of the fire as one of the
suspicious circumstances indicating his guilt. Appellant was prosecuted on the theory that he induced his
said codefendants to set fire to the building. Hence the three were charged jointly on an information
alleging conspiracy among them. This allegation of conspiracy, however, has been negatived by the
acquittal of appellant's codefendants. The same may be said with regard to the theory that appellant had
induced his codefendants to perpetrate the unlawful deed; for it seems clear that one can not be held
guilty of having instigated the commission of a crime without its first being shown that the crime has been
actually committed by another.

While the crime charged in the present case is not conspiracy as a distinct offense, it is clear from the
nature of the evidence presented that appellant alone could not have committed the unlawful act. As
already stated, the theory of the prosecution was that he conspired with or induced his codefendants to
commit the crime. The gravamen of the charge was conspiracy, and the acquittal of his codefendants is
clearly inconsistent with appellant's guilt.

It is a well-settled principle of criminal law that a conviction for crime can not be had unless the corpus
delicti is first established. (State vs. Sullivan, 17 L. R. A., 902.) To establish the corpus delicti in arson the
proof of two elements is required, namely, (1) the burning of the house or other thing, and (2) the criminal
agency in causing it. (Spears vs. State, 16 L.R.A. [N. S.}, 285.) The corpus delicti may be proved by
circumstancial evidence. (State vs. Sullivan, supra.) However: "Before a conviction can be had upon
circumstancial evidence, the circumstances proven should constitute an unbroken chain which leads to
one fair and reasonable conclusion, which points to the defendant, to the exclusion of all others, as the
guilty person. It is indispensable that the evidence be derived from interrelated facts and duly proven in
a manner that will lead to a logical and rational conclusion, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the accused
is the author of the crime. In other words, there must be from all the circumstances, a combination of
evidence which, in the ordinary and natural course of things, leaves no room for reasonable doubt as to
the guilt of the accused." (Moran, The Law of Evidence, 453; numerous cases cited in support of the text.)

While the facts proved in the present case are sufficient to raise grave suspicions against the appellant,
they fall far short of establishing his guilt clearly and satisfactorily, as required by the well-settled rules of
evidence. This court held in United States vs. Levente (18 Phil., 439), that to warrant a conviction upon
circumstancial evidence, all the circumstances proved must be consistent with each other, consistent with
the hypothesis that the accused is guilty, and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that he is
innocent, and with every other rational hypothesis except that of guilt. The chain of circumstances which
would have pointed to the appellant as the guilty person was broken by the acquittal of Ong Ban Hua and
Kua Sing. As already explained, the acquittal of his said codefendants is not only consistent with the
hypothesis that the appellant is innocent, but is inconsistent with the hypothesis that he is guilty.

It results that the judgment appealed from must be reversed and the appellant acquitted, with costs de
oficio. So ordered.
G.R. Nos. L-4146 and L-4147 March 28, 1952
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
VICENTE MENDOZA, HILARION MENDOZA, and EMILIANO SINU-AG, defendants-appellants.

Facts:

On the occasion of the barrio fiesta of Mabini, municipality of Escalante, province of Negros Occidental,
the Parent-Teacher's Association of the barrio held an amateur singing contest at about seven o'clock in
the evening of April 30, 1949. Rufino Sebua was designated to take charge of the contest. Among the five
contestants was his son and one Ruth Dueas. After the contestants had finished singing, Ruth was asked
by the public to sing her song again. Nevertheless, Rufino declared that a little girl, one of the contestants,
won the first prize and his son Sofrinio won the second prize, and the third prize went to another boy, and
Ruth Dueas won no prize. This supposedly unjust decision infuriated Emiliano Sinu-ag, husband of Ruth
and he vented his resentment and anger on her. He called her down from the platform and then boxed
and kicked her at the same time saying that there will be a fight. Pio Concerman left his seat on the
platform and went down and spoke to Emiliano, according to the prosecution, to pacify Emiliano telling
him not to make trouble. Hilarion Mendoza who was near and carrying a knife rushed to Pio, held him by
the arm and asked if he was angry. Pio shock him off and before he could answer the question of Hilarion,
the latter struck at him with his knife. Pio parried the blow and punched him in the face, sending him
reeling backward into the crowd. Hilarion dazed but infuriated came face to face with Pio's brother,
Simplicio, whom he immediately stabbed in the left chest, causing a wound about three inches deep.

Hilarion went to Pio and with his knife struck the prostate man on the back of the neck. Then Hilarion and
Emiliano left the scene and went to the house of Vicente Mendoza, Hilarion's brother. The wounds
sustained by Pio and Simplicio did not prevent them from retiring to their respective homes. Pio told his
wife Bienvenida Araez that he had been wounded by Hilarion. Then, the three accused Emiliano, Hilarion
and Vicente was in front of their house shouting and demanding that Pio come out for they would kill him.
She and her husband left the ground floor and proceeded to climb the stairs up to the second floor, but
they were intercepted by the three accused, Vicente entering through an opening he had made in the wall
of the landing and his companions entering through the door. They pulled Pio from the stairs to the ground
floor, Vicente holding him by the neck and the two other defendants by his legs and then they proceed to
stab and strike him mercilessly and indiscriminately with their knives, inflicting wounds on different parts
of the body, the deep wounds on the clavicular region proving fatal. The three appellants drag the limp
body of her husband across the street and dump it into a canal on the other side where they left it dead.

Issue:

Whether the murder case of killing Pio Concerman in his own home having been attended by the
qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation and the aggravating circumstance of treachery?

Held:

The Supreme Court agreed with the Solicitor-General that there is no proof of such premeditation. On the
contrary, the evidence shows that from the school grounds Emiliano and Hilarion hurried to the house of
Vicente Mendoza and soon thereafter, they went to the house of Pio. The interval was so short that there
was no time or sufficient period for meditation and reflection. The appellants did not have an opportunity
to coolly and serenely think and deliberate on the meaning and the consequences of what they planned
to do, an interval long enough for their conscience and a better judgement to over-come their evil desire
and scheme.

The Supreme Court also believed that what attended the commission of the crime was the appellant's
having taken advantage of superior strength. Pio Concerman wounded, weak and unarmed was no match
to the three defendants who were all carrying blade weapons. This circumstance of their superior strength
qualifies the killing and raise to the category of murder. It is also true that the killing was done in the very
dwelling of the Pio Concerman. However, the attack did not really began in the school grounds. We are
inclined to believe that Pio provoked the attack. We repeat that there is reason to believe that as the
defense witnesses stated in their testimony Pio not only tried to pacify Emiliano but also asked him if he
wanted to fight. This inclines us to believe and to find that Pio had given provocation, in which case, the
attendance of the crime being committed in the dwelling of the deceased should not be considered
(People vs. Cabellion, 51 Phil. 846 and U.S. vs. Licarte, 23 Phil. 10)

The Supreme Court find that the dispositive part of the decision of the trial court is supported by the
evidence and is in confirmity with law. Therefore, the same is hereby affirmed with costs as regards
appellants Vicente Mendoza and Hilarion Mendoza in both cases of murder and serious physical injuries.
G.R. No. 82708 July 1, 1991
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
GREGORIO CLAMOR y SANTIAGO, accused-appellant.

Facts:

On March 27, 1981 at about 7:30 p.m., Ricardo Rivera with companion Jaime Pascual was walking along
Deparo, Caloocan City on their way to Bagombong, a motorcycle with two (2) persons riding tandem
passed by towards Novaliches. As the motorcycle passed Ricardo Rivera and companion, the rider behind
the one driving the motorcycle shot Ricardo Rivera. The two (2) persons then fled. Momentarily, for
reasons only known to them and apparently to make certain that Ricardo Rivera was dead, they turned
back the motorcycle, ran towards Ricardo Rivera and shot him again after alighting from the motorcycle.
The victim fell down mortally wounded. Inocencio Arellano, who was then at the store of Aling Maring
buying cigarettes and Eulogio Rivera, brother of the victim who was then on his way home to Bagumbong
and after hearing shots, both responded to help him. Eulogio Rivera placed the victim in a tricycle and
rushed him to the Quezon City General Hospital. Fortunately, Inocencio Arellano witnessed the whole
incident as the place of the crime was lighted. He saw and recognized the person who shot the victim as
he positively pointed to accused Gregorio Clamor as the killer. Eulogio Rivera was also positive and certain
that he saw and recognized the person at the back seat of the motorcycle as the accused Gregorio Clamor,
the compadre of his deceased brother, Ricardo Rivera. Upon arrival at the Quezon City General Hospital,
report of the incident was made by telephone to the Caloocan City Police Headquarters. Pat. Arsenio
Alilam was assigned as investigator. He rushed to the hospital where he found the victim mortally
wounded. He then took an ante mortem statement of the victim in question and answer method in the
presence of Det. Cesar Salting. Attending Physician Dr. Alberto Vergara and the victim's brother Eulogio
Rivera.

The Court finds accused Gregorio Clamor guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder.
Gregorio Clamor appeals from a Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City which imposed upon
him the penalty of reclusion perpetua for the murder of Ricardo Rivera.

Issue:

Whether the aggravating circumstances of treachery, evident premeditation and nighttime exist which
would qualify the killing to murder.

Held:

Treachery was correctly taken into account by the trial court. Appellant was armed with a gun, riding
tandem on a motorcycle, suddenly and without warning shot Ricardo Rivera in the back as the motorcycle
sped by. Ricardo Rivera was then walking with another man, Jaime Pascual, along the road to Bagumbong,
unsuspecting and unarmed. The motorcycle then turned back and returned to where Ricardo lay
wounded, and appellant fired at Ricardo once more, again hitting him in the back. Ricardo had no effective
opportunity to defend himself and to strike back at the assassin.
On the other hand, evident premeditation cannot be said to have been proved. None of the elements of
evident premeditation (1) proof of the time when the accused decided to commit the crime; (2) proof
of an overt act showing that the accused had clung to his determination to commit the crime; and (3) the
lapse of time between the decision and the execution of the crime sufficient to allow the accused to reflect
upon the consequences of his acts had been established by the prosecution.

Nighttime was similarly erroneously appreciated by the trial court. The ordinary rule, however, is that
nocturnity is deemed absorbed in treachery and as such is not be appreciated separately.

Appellant may be credited with voluntary surrender. Having learned of the rumor about his participation
in the killing of Ricardo Rivera, appellant sought the advice of his uncle and then voluntarily went to the
police station for interrogation. He surrendered himself personally to the police authorities and had his
hands subjected to a paraffin test to determine the presence of nitrates or gunpowder residue. He was
released from detention only upon posting of a bond

The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 125 in Criminal Case No.15953(81) is
hereby MODIFIED so as to credit appellant Gregorio Clamor with the mitigating circumstance of voluntary
surrender.