Sunday, February 05, 2012

People vs. Togahan, et.al., G.R. No. 174064, June 8, 2007

Facts: Appellants Henry Togahan (Togahan) and Emeldo Lauro (Lauro) together with 2 other accused still at large were charged under separate informations for two counts of murder committed by shooting one Ananias Villar, Sr. (Villar) and David Gene Richardson (Richardson).

In the course of the trial, the prosecution stated that at around 6:30 p.m., Magdalena Villar (Mrs. Villar), her daughter Vilma Villar-Richardson (Mrs. Richardson), son-in-law Richardson, grandchildren Kenneth, Kevin, Junelyn, Jovelyn and Michelle, and brother Pedro Castillo were all watching television in the living room of their residence in Surigao del Sur. Without warning, two armed men (Togahan and Lauro) wearing bonnets suddenly arrived. At that time, the victim Villar, husband of Mrs. Villar, was in his room. When Villar heard the commotion, he went to the door and tried to prevent the armed men from entering, but he was shot twice, pulled towards the balcony and clubbed to death.

Togahan, pointed a gun at Mrs. Richardson and pulled the trigger thrice. The gun did not fire however. Lauro, then, approached Richardson and likewise pointed a gun at him. Mrs. Richardson told her husband to run away but the latter, in an attempt to protect his wife, struggled and tried to wrestle the gun away from Togahan instead. In the course thereof, Lauro shot Richardson then ran out of the house with Richardson's 3-year old son. Villar and Richardson were brought to Plaza Memorial Hospital in Patin-ay, Surigao del Sur but were dead upon arrival.

Eyewitness Lowelito Villar (Lowelito), grandson of victim Villar, testified that on the evening of the incident, he heard a gun burst and claims to have seen three (3) armed and masked men he identified as Togahan, Lauro and Balindo enter the victims' house. After the attack, all the accused ran out of the house, removing their masks in the process. 

Issue: Whether or not there was conspiracy

Held: Yes. The existence of conspiracy among the assailants is patent. In the instant case, by the concurrent acts of barging into the residence of the victims, holding them at gunpoint and shooting and attacking the victims, Lauro, Togahan and their co-accused are deemed to have agreed to commit the crime of murder. Each of their contributory acts without semblance of desistance reflected their resolution to commit the crime. From a legal standpoint, there is conspiracy if, at the time of the commission of the offense, the appellants had the same purpose and were united in its execution. Direct proof of previous agreement to commit a crime is not necessary. Conspiracy may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the offense was perpetrated, or inferred from the acts of the appellants themselves when such acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action, and community of intent. Where conspiracy is established, the act of one is the act of all.

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