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People vs. De Fernando 49 Phil.

G.R. No. L-24978 March 27, 1926
FACTS: The accused, a policeman, was informed that three convicts had escaped. In the dark, he saw a
person going up the stairs of a house, carrying a bolo and calling for someone inside. The daughter of
the owner of the house was at that time with the accused whofired a shot in the air. As the unknown
personcontinued to ascend the stairs and believing that he was one of the escapedconvicts, the accused
fired directly at the man who turned out to be the nephew of the owner of the house
ISSUE: Whether or not the appellant is exempt from criminal liability due tomistake of fact.
HELD: An agent of the law, to whom notice had been given of the presence of suspicious looking
persons, who might be escaped prisoners from a nearbypenitentiary, prowling around the vicinity, and
who enters a house to keepwatch, and later in the evening sees a person with a bolo in hand,
approachingthe house in the attitude of going up the stairs, who does not answer thechallenge of the
officer of the law, and continues his advance notwithstandingthat the latter had fired a shot into the air,
and the said agent of the lawconsidering that the said stranger has not been recognized by any person in
thehousehold, and thinking him to be an evil-doer, shoots and kills him, is not guiltyof murder or
homicide.Taking into consideration the state of the mind of the accused at the time, andthe meaning
that he gave to the attitude of the unknown person, in shooting thelatter, he felt that he was performing
his duty by defending the owners of thehouse against an unexpected attack, and such act cannot
constitute the crime of murder, but only that of a simple homicide. He cannot be held guilty, however
asprincipal, with malicious intent, because he thought at the time that he wasjustified in acting as he
did, and he is guilty only because he failed to exercise theordinary diligence which, under the
circumstances, he should have byinvestigating whether or not the unknown man was really what he
thought himto be. In firing the shot, without first exercising reasonable diligence, he actedwith reckless
The crime committed by the accused, therefore is homicide though recklessnegligence defined and
punished in Article 568, in relation with Art. 404, of thePenal Code.