Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Epifanio vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 157057, June 26, 2007

Facts: On August 15, 1990, Crisaldo Alberto (Crisaldo) and his cousin, Allan Perez (Allan), were walking to their respective homes after spending time at the house of Crisaldo's father. Since the pavement going to Crisaldo's house followed a narrow pathway along the local shrubs called banganga, Allan walked ahead of Crisaldo. Suddenly, Crisaldo felt the piercing thrust of a bladed weapon on his back, which caused him to cry out in pain. He made a quick turnaround and saw his attacker, petitioner, also known as "Iyo (Uncle) Kingkoy." Petitioner stabbed Crisaldo again but only hit the latter's left arm. When Allan heard Crisaldo's outcry, he rushed to Crisaldo's side which caused petitioner to run away. Allan then brought Crisaldo to his father's house where Crisaldo's wounds were wrapped in a blanket. Crisaldo was then brought to the PeƱaplata Hospital where he was given first aid and then transferred to the Davao Medical Center where he stayed for three weeks to recuperate from his wounds.

Subsequently, petitioner was charged with Frustrated Murder. During his arraignment, petitioner pleaded "not guilty." Petitioner's defense consisted mainly of denial. On July 5, 1994, the RTC rendered its Decision convicting the petitioner. Petitioner appealed his conviction to the CA, which affirmed the decision in toto.

Issue: Whether the accused was guilty of frustrated murder.

Held: No. It must be stressed that it is not the gravity of the wounds alone which determines whether a felony is attempted or frustrated, but whether the assailant had passed the subjective phase in the commission of the offense.

In homicide cases, the offender is said to have performed all the acts of execution if the wound inflicted on the victim is mortal and could cause the death of the victim barring medical intervention or attendance. If one inflicts physical injuries on another but the latter survives, the crime committed is either consummated physical injuries, if the offender had no intention to kill the victim; or frustrated or attempted homicide or frustrated murder or attempted murder if the offender intends to kill the victim. Intent to kill may be proved by evidence of: (a) motive; (b) the nature or number of weapons used in the commission of the crime; (c) the nature and number of wounds inflicted on the victim; (d) the manner the crime was committed; and (e) words uttered by the offender at the time the injuries were inflicted by him on the victim.

In the present case, the intent to kill is very evident and was established beyond reasonable doubt through the unwavering testimony of Crisaldo on the manner of execution of the attack as well as the number of wounds he sustained. Crisaldo was stabbed from behind by petitioner. When Crisaldo turned around, petitioner continued his assault, hitting Crisaldo on the left arm as the latter tried to defend himself. The treacherous manner in which petitioner perpetrated the crime is shown not only by the sudden and unexpected attack upon the unsuspecting victim but also by the deliberate manner in which the assault was perpetrated. Nonetheless, petitioner failed to perform all the acts of execution, because Allan came to the aid of Crisaldo and petitioner was forced to scamper away. He did not voluntarily desist from stabbing Crisaldo, but he had to stop stabbing when Allan rushed to help Crisaldo and recognized petitioner. Thus, the subjective phase of the crime had not been completed.

Moreover, the prosecution failed to present testimonial evidence on the nature of the wounds sustained by Crisaldo. No evidence in this case was introduced to prove that Crisaldo would have died from his wound without timely medical attendance. It is well-settled that where there is nothing in the evidence to show that the wound would be fatal if not medically attended to, the character of the wound is doubtful; hence, the doubt should be resolved in favor of the accused and the crime committed by him may be declared as attempted, not frustrated murder.

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