Thursday, February 23, 2012

People vs. Boholst-Caballero [61 SCRA 180 (1974)]

Facts: Cunigunda Boholst Caballero seeks reversal of the judgment of the CFI of Ormoc City finding her guilty of parricide—she allegedly killed her husband, Francisco Caballero, using a hunting knife. The couple was married in 1956 and had a daughter. They had frequent quarrels due to the husband's gambling and drinking and there were times when he maltreated and abused his wife. After more than a year, Francisco abandoned his family. In 1958, Cunigunda went caroling with her friends and when she was on her way home she met her husband who suddenly held her by the collar and accused her of going out for prostitution. Then he said he would kill her, held her by the hair, slapped her until her nose bled then pushed her towards the ground. She fell to the ground, he knelt on her and proceeded to choke her. Cunigunda, having earlier felt a knife tucked in Francisco's belt line while holding unto his waist so she wouldn't fall to the ground, grabbed the hunting knife and thrust it into her husband's left side, near the belt line just above the thigh. He died 2 days after the incident due to the stab wound. Then she ran home and threw the knife away. The next day, she surrendered herself to the police along with the torn dress that she wore the night before. 

Issue: Whether or not Cunigunda, in stabbing her husband, acted in legitimate self-defense

Held: Yes, she did. Acquitted.

1. Burden if proof of self-defense rests on the accused. In this case, the location and nature of the stab wound confirms that the said victim, the husband, was the aggressor. 

With her husband kneeling over her and choking her, accused had no other choice but to pull the knife tucked in his belt line and thrust it into his side. 

The fact that the blow landed in the vicinity where the knife was drawn from is a strong indication of the truth of the testimony of the accused. Based on the re-enactment of the incident, it was natural for her to use her right hand to lunge the knife into husband's left side. 

2. Three requisites of legitimate self-defense are present 

Unlawful aggression. The husband resorting to pushing her to the ground then choking her just because she was out caroling at night constitutes unlawful aggression, There was imminent danger of injury. 

Reasonable necessity of means employed. While being choked, Cunigunda had no other recourse but to take hold of the knife and plunge it into husband's side in order to protect herself. Reasonable necessity does not depend upon the harm done but on the imminent danger of such injury. 

Lack of sufficient provocation. provocation is sufficient when proportionate to the aggression. In this case, there was no sufficient provocation on the part of the accused (Cunigunda) to warrant the attack of her husband. All that she did to provoke an imaginary commission of a wrong in the mind of her husband was to be out caroling at night.

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