Sunday, March 25, 2012

People vs. Decena

Facts: According to the testimony of the 14-year old daughter of the victim, her father was walking home in an intoxicated state on Christmas day when suddenly she saw George Decena rush towards with a long bladed weapon. She tried to warn him by shouting but all the father did was raise his hands, which enabled the assailant to stab him on the chest. Decena then fled from the scene, leaving the victim on the ground. The daughter, unable to carry her father, yelled for her mother to come and stated that George Decena was the one who stabbed her father. 

Decena’s defense, however, states that it was the father, Jaime, who, when drunk in the basketball game before returning home, held Decena by the neck with one arm and poked a fork against it by the other. The barangay tanod also surnamed Decena then took the fork from Jaime and advised George Decena to go home. Jaime allegedly followed. The uncle of Decena testified that it was Jaime who tried to attack Decena and that the latter was able to parry the blow. During the struggle that ensued, Decena was able to twist the wrist of his combatant and thrust the knife towards his person thereby effecting his death. 

Issue: Whether or not Decena acted in self-defense and thus, exonerated from criminal liability. 

Held: No. The burden of evidence, instead of being on the part of the prosecution, shifts towards the defense because it alleges it acted in self-defense. The basic requirement for self-defense, as a justifying circumstance, is that there was unlawful aggression against the person defending himself – so indispensable is this element that, without it, there is no occasion to speak of the two other requisites. The theory of the defense rests on the premise that the unlawful aggression was continuing from the basketball court to the scene of the Jaime’s demise. This wasn’t the case because when the aggressor leaves, the unlawful aggression ceases (elementary rule) which was seen when the would-be combatants heeded the advice of the barangay tanod. Since the unlawful aggression no longer existed after this cessation, Decena had no right whatsoever to kill or even wound the former aggressor. 

It is an old but respected and consistent rule that courts must determine by a balance of probabilities who of the participants in a fight had, in the natural order of things, the reason to commence the aggression. In the present case and according to the logical view of the court, Decena acted in retaliation not in self-defense. Whereas in retaliation, aggression that was begun by the injured party already ceased to exist when the accused attacked him, in self-defense, the aggression was still existing when the aggressor was injured or disabled by the person making the defense.

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