Tuesday, February 21, 2012

People vs. Tubongbanua [G.R. No. 171271, 31 August 2006]

Facts: The accused was employed as a family driver by Atty. Evelyn Sua – Kho. One Evening the accused drove Atty. Kho to her unit. After giving the bag to Marissa, the maid, the accused went straight to the kitchen. After playing with her daughter, Atty. Kho emerged from the bedroom to talk to the accused. Shortly thereafter, Marissa heard the employer screaming and she saw the accused stabbing her with a kitchen knife. She tried to stop him, but the accused continued to stab Atty. Kho. The latter was bought to the hospital by her father but was not revived. She sustained eighteen stab wounds some found in her chest which was considered to have caused her death. The accused fled the scene and was arrested in Mindoro while on his way to his home province. Prior to the commission of the crime, the accused confided to Marian Aquino, secretary of the law firm where the victim works, and Atty. Baguio, an associate of the firm, his grudges towards the victim and his plan to kill her. 

Issue: Whether or not accused Tubongbanua is guilty of the crime of murder qualified by evident premeditation and with the attendant aggravating circumstances of taking advantage of superior strength and dwelling. 

Held: Yes. Accused Tubongbanua was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder qualified by evident premeditation and with the attendant aggravating circumstances of taking advantage of superior strength and dwelling. It was established by the prosecution witnesses the appellant’s state of mind and predisposition to avenge the alleged maltreatment by the victim. Both witnesses testified on appellant’s ill-plans against his employer the day prior to the crime. Appellant likewise took advantage of his superior strength to perpetuate the criminal act. He killed Atty. Sua-Kho by overpowering her and driving the murder weapon into her body several times, despite her attempts to parry the blows. He could not have executed the dastardly act without employing physical superiority over the victim. There is no dispute that Atty. Sua-Kho was killed in her home. Appellant could have killed her elsewhere but he decided to commit the crime at her home; thus we appreciate the aggravating circumstance of dwelling. 

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals with modification and sentenced the accused to Reclusion Perpetua without the possibility of parole.

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