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PEOPLE 2006 / Panganiban / Exceptions to hearsay rule > Dying declaration The crime involved in this case is HOMICIDE. All the courts found the accused Celestino Marturillas (barangay captain) guilty of the crime against Artemio Pantinople. The issue of dying declaration came about because the victim Artemio shouted to his kumpare Lito Santos "Tabangi ko Pre, gipusil ko ni kapitan" (Help me, Pre, I was shot by the captain). CHARACTERS Celestino Marturillas - accused; barangay captain Artemio Pantinople - victim Ernita Pantinople - victim Artemio's wife Lito Santos - Artemio's kumpare and neighbor Cecilia Santos - Lito's wife FACTS Cecilia called Lito and Artemio for supper. Lito, opting to eat later, served the food. After eating, Artemio returned to the bench in front of his store (which was 5 meters away from Lito's house). Lito was eating supper in their kitchen when he heard a gunshot [7:30 PM]. From a distance of 10 meters, he also noticed smoke and fire from a muzzle of a big gun. Later, he saw Artemio clasping his chest and staggering backwards to the direction of Lito's kitchen.1 Artemio shouted to Lito, "Tabangi ko Pre, gipusil ko ni kapitan" (Help me, Pre, I was shot by the captain). However, Lito did not approach Artemio right away because his wife warned him that he [Lito] might also be shot. Lito did not see the one who shot Artemio because his attention was focused on Artemio. Artemio's wife Ernita2 rushed to the scene, screaming "Kapitan, bakit mo binaril ang aking asawa!" Lito, and some other neighbors approached. Police arrived at the scene at around 10 PM. Ernita and Lito told PO2 Operario that Marturillas was the one responsible for the shooting. Artemio's body was loaded into the funeral hearse. PO2 Operario boarded their mobile car with Lito. PO2 Operario proceeded to Marturillas' house and informed him that he was a suspect. Marturillas was invited to go to the police station and he was asked to bring along his M-14 rifle. Marturillas did not say anything. He was detained in the police station and was later transferred to another station. He did not give any statement about the incident.3 Version of the Defense Marturillas was roused from his sleep, only to be informed that Artemio had just been shot. Marturillas ordered his kagawads to assemble the members of the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary [SCAA]. Marturillas and the SCAA members went to the crime scene. He was met by a very mad Ernita, who accused him of having shot her husband instead of Lito who was his enemy. To avoid a heated confrontation, Marturillas went back home. Marturillas ordered a Kagawad to contact the police station to inform them of the events. Not knowing the radio frequency of the local police, the Kagawad radioed the officials of the nearby barangay. Later, PO2 Operario arrived at Marturillas' house and was told that he was a principal suspect. He was brought to the police station for questioning. Marturillas was subjected to paraffin testing--result was negative. RTC - Guilty of homicide CA - Affirmed RTC Marturillas was positively identified as the one running away from the crime scene immediately after the gunshot The victim Artemio himself made a declaration that he had been shot by the captain No ill motive could be ascribed to the prosecution witnesses Marturillas' defenses of denial and alibi REJECTED ISSUE & HOLDING WON Marturillas is guilty. YES Step-by-step process of SC re: issues involving Artemio's statement It established that Artemio uttered those words It resolved that said words are considered as part of Artemio's dying declaration It also said that at the same time, the statement can be admitted as part of the res gestae
Lito's [literal] POV - Their kitchen is open-type, so he had an unobstructed view of Artemio who was about 5 meters away from him. There were plants nearby, but these did not obstruct Lito's view. 2 Ernita's POV - At the time she heard the gunshot, she was about to feed her baby. She immediately pushed open the window and saw accused Celestino Marturillas running towards the direction of the back portion of Lito's house. Marturillas crossed the street and disappeared. Ernita saw that Marturillas had a long firearm which looked like an M-14 rifle, and she sensed that he had companions (due to crackling sound of leaves). Ernita had a clear view of Marturillas because there was a full moon and there were 2 lamps turned on in their store. 3 Alicia (Artemio's sister) went to the police station to question Marturillas [Why did you kill my brother?] but the latter did not respond.
Issue #1 - Credibility of Prosecution Evidence Positive identification Marturillas If Ernita failed to identify the victim [her husband], according to her affidavit, how can she say that it was Marturillas whom she claims she saw fleeing from the scene? It was dark at that time; trees obstructed Ernita's view; Ernita's house was 50 meters away.
Supreme Court, citing the Court of Appeals Ernita positively identified Marturillas--she was able to describe his clothes, firearm, direction. She also said that she heard her husband's statement. Her house is only 30 meters away from the crime scene. Ernita is familiar with Marturillas--judicial notice was taken of the fact that people in rural communities generally know each other by face and name + features + characteristics. There were 2 lamps + full moon. Lito said the crime scene was bright. The plants did not obscure the view--prosecution presented photos of the crime scene and immediate vicinities. Plants have slender trunks. Ernita was then in an elevated position.
Alleged inconsistencies between affidavits and court testimonies Ex parte affidavits usually incomplete and inaccurate--products of partial suggestions or want of suggestions and inquiries Although Ernita said that she recognized the victim as her husband through his voice, it cannot be necessarily inferred that she did not see him--she was still hoping that it was not really he. Alleged inconsistency did not relate to Ernita's identification of Marturillas as the person running away from the crime scene. Statements uttered contemporaneous with the crime It should be clear that Lito never testified that Marturillas was the one who had actually shot Artemio. Still, Lito's testimony is valuable, as it validates Ernita's statements on this matter. Marturillas: It was incredible for Lito to have seen the victim, but not the assailant. CA and SC: Wrong. Natural reaction of a person who hears a loud or startling command is to turn towards the speaker Witnessing a crime is an unusual experience that elicits different reactions from witnesses, for which no clear-cut standard of behavior can be prescribed Lito’s reaction not unnatural; He was more concerned about Artemio’s condition than the need to ascertain the identity of the assailant. Marturillas: Lito has been harboring "a deep-seated grudge," which would explain why he [Lito] fabricated a serious accusation. SC: This contention has no basis. Lito merely recounted what he heard Artemio say. Lito never pointed to Marturillas as the perpetrator. Lito's statements corroborated those of Ernita and therefore simply added credence to the prosecution’s version. Marturillas: It was highly probable that Artemio died instantly and was unable to shout for help. C: We do not discount this possibility, but as between the positive and categorical declarations of the prosecution witnesses and the mere opinion of the medical doctor, the former must prevail--several hours lapsed before examination of the body took place. Dying Declaration Rule 130, Sec. 37. Dying declaration.--The declaration of a dying person, made under the consciousness of impending death, may be received in any case wherein his death is the subject of inquiry, as evidence of the cause and surrounding circumstances of such death. Generally, witnesses can testify only to those facts derived from their own perception. A recognized exception is a report in open court of a dying person’s declaration made under the consciousness of an impending death that is the subject of inquiry in th e case. Statements identifying the assailant, if uttered by a victim on the verge of death, are entitled to the highest degree of credence and respect. Persons aware of an impending death have been known to be genuinely truthful in their words and extremely scrupulous in their accusations. The dying declaration is given credence, on the premise that no one who knows of one’s impending death will make a careless and false accusation. Pronouncements of guilt have been allowed to rest solely on the dying declaration of the deceased victim. Requirements for admissibility of dying declaration all met 1. It must refer to the cause and circumstances surrounding the declarant’s death a. Artemio pointed to the person who shot him b. Marturillas was the only person referred to as kapitan in their place, as established by the prosecution 2. It must be made under the consciousness of an impending death a. Established, though he made no express statement showing that he was conscious of his impending death i. BUT THE LAW DOES NOT REQUIRE SUCH EXPLICIT STATEMENT ii. PERCEPTION MAY BE ESTABLISHED FROM SURROUNDING CIRCUMSTANCES (nature of the declarant’s injury; conduct) 1. IN THIS CASE -- degree and seriousness of words; death occurred shortly afterwards 3. It must be made freely and voluntarily without coercion or suggestions of improper influence -- OK 4. It must be offered in a criminal case, in which the death of the declarant is the subject of inquiry --HOMICIDE 5. It must have been made by a declarant competent to testify as a witness, had that person been called upon to testify a. Yes, Artemio was the victim!
As found by the CA, Artemio's dying declaration was complete, as it was "a full expression of all that he intended to say as conveying his meaning. It [was] complete and [was] not merely fragmentary." Testified to by his wife and neighbor, Artemio's dying declaration was not only admissible in evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule, but was also a weighty and telling piece of evidence. Res Gestae4 The fact that Artemio's statement constituted a dying declaration does not preclude it from being admitted as part of the res gestae, if the elements of both are present. Requisites of res gestae all present in this case The principal act, the res gestae, is a startling occurrence -- SHOOTING The statements were made before the declarant had time to contrive or devise -- MADE IMMEDIATELY AFTER SHOOTING The statements concerned the occurrence in question and its immediately attending circumstances -- DECLARATION CONCERNED THE ONE WHO SHOT VICTIM Ernita's statement ["Kapitan, ngano nimo gipatay ang akong bana?" ("Captain, why did you shoot my husband?")] may be considered to be in the same category. All requisites complied with. Issue #2 - Sufficiency of Evidence Circumstances that produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt 1. The dying declaration made by Artemio immediately prior to his death constitutes evidence of the highest order as to the cause of his death and of the identity of the assailant. 2. Lito's statement [See first and second paragraph of FACTS] 3. Ernita's statement [See second paragraph of FACTS and second footnote] 4. Ernita’s statement, "Captain, why did you shoot my husband?" was established as part of the res gestae 5. Defense's version simply implausible--reaction was very unlikely of an innocent barangay captain, who would simply want to investigate a crime 6. Prosecution was able to establish motive on the part of Marturillas i. Ernita testified: Prior to this, Artemio was trying to close a real estate transaction which Marturillas tried to block Others
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Paraffin test: A negative paraffin test result is not a conclusive proof that a person has not fired a gun. Besides, the prosecution was able to establish the events during the shooting, including Marturillas' presence at the scene of the crime. Corpus delicti: The prosecution was able to give sufficient proof of the fact that a crime had actually been committed. Corpus delicti does not necessarily refer to the firearms in the crime of homicide. Alibi: Correctly dismissed--locus criminis only several meters away from Marturillas' home. Award of damages Indemnity ex delicto - 50k Temperate damages - 25k Moral damages - 50k Loss of earning capacity - 312k Attorney's fees - 20k
CA DECISION AND RESOLUTION AFFIRMED.
Rule 130, Sec. 42. Part of the res gestae. -- Statements made by a person while a startling occurrence is taking place or immediately prior or subsequent thereto with respect to the circumstances thereof, may be given in evidence as part of the res gestae. So, also, statements accompanying an equivocal act material to the issue, and giving it a legal significance, may be received as part of the res gestae. Res gestae refers to statements made by the participants or the victims of, or the spectators to, a crime immediately before, during, or after its commission. These statements are a spontaneous reaction or utterance inspired by the excitement of the occasion, without any opportunity for the declarant to fabricate a false statement. An important consideration is whether there intervened, between the occurrence and the statement, any circumstance calculated to divert the mind and thus restore the mental balance of the declarant; and afford an opportunity for deliberation.
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