Thursday, March 15, 2012

People vs. Cachola (January 21, 2004)

Facts: The mother, elder brother, uncle and cousin of 12-year old Jessie Barnachea (Jessie) were killed. There were 4 separate informations charging Dominador Cachola (Cachola) and Ernestos Amay (Amay) with murder. 

At the trial before the RTC, the prosecution presented as witnesses Jessie, his brother, neighbors and several police officers. 

After the prosecution rested its case, the defense counsels orally asked for leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence. The trial court denied the motion outright and set the schedule for the presentation of evidence for the defense. 

However, instead of presenting evidence, the appellants filed a Demurrer to Evidence even without leave of court. 

RTC convicted Cachola and Amay sentencing them to suffer 4 counts of the supreme penalty of death. 

The case is on automatic review before the Supreme Court. 

Issue: Whether or not the trial court erred in not allowing Cachola and Amay to present evidence after filing their demurrer to evidence without leave of court. 

Held: NO. Section 15 (now Section 23), Rule 119 is clear on the matter: SEC. 15. -Demurrer to evidence. - After the prosecution has rested its case, the court may dismiss the case on the ground of insufficiency of evidence: (1) on its own initiative after giving the prosecution an opportunity to be heard; or (2) on motion of the accused filed with prior leave of court. 

If the court denies the motion for dismissal, the accused may adduce evidence in his defense. When the accused files such motion to dismiss without express leave of court, he waives the right to present evidence and submits the case for judgment on the basis of the evidence for the prosecution. (Underscoring supplied). 
The filing by Cachola and Amay of a demurrer to evidence in the absence of prior leave of court was a clear waiver of their right to present their own evidence. To sustain their claim that they had been denied due process because the evidence they belatedly sought to offer would have exculpated them would be to allow them to “wager on the outcome of judicial proceedings by espousing inconsistent viewpoints whenever dictated by convenience.” 

Furthermore, it cannot be said that the waiver was not clear. The trial court postponed the hearings on the motion for demurrer, even after leave of court had been denied, and then granted extensions to Amay until he finally adopted the position of his co-appellants. At no time other than in this automatic review was there any attempt that is contrary to the waiver of the presentation of evidence.

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