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D.

DURATION OF DEATH
E. PRESUMPTION OF DEATH
Chapter V- MEDICO-LEGAL INVESTIGATION OF DEATH
By: JOHASAN, WALDEMAR B.
REPORTER
D. DURATION OF DEATH
In the determination as to how long a person has been dead from the
condition of the cadaver and other external evidences, the following points
must be taken into consideration:
1. Presence of Rigor Mortis
2. Presence of Post-mortem Lividity
3. Onset of Decomposition
4. Stage of Decomposition
5. Entomology of the Cadaver
6. Stage of Digestion of Food in the Stomach
7. Presence of Live Fleas in the Clothings in Drowning Cases
8. 8. Amount of Urine in the Bladder
9. State of Clothings
10. Chemical Changes in the Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (15 Hours Following Death)
11. Post-Mortem Clothing and Decoagulation of Blood
12. Presence or Absence of Soft Tissues in Skeletal Remains
13. Condition of the Bones
1. PRESENCE OF RIGOR MORTIS
In warm countries like the Philippines, rigor mortis sets in from 2 to 3 hours
after the death.
It is fully developed in the body after 12 hours.
It may last from 18 hours to 36 hours and its disappearance is concomitant with
the onset of putrefaction
Rigor mortis (Latin: rigor "stiffness", mortis "of death") is one of the
recognizable signs of death, caused by chemical changes in the muscles after
death, causing the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move or
manipulate.
Rigor Mortis is the stiffening of the body after death because of a loss of
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) from the body's muscles. ATP is the substance that
allows energy to flow to the muscles and help them work and without this the
muscles become stiff and inflexible.
2. PRESENCE OF POST-MORTEM LIVIDITY

Lividity is the process through which the body's blood supply will stop
moving after the heart has stopped pumping it around the inside of the
deceased. What normally happens at this point is that the blood supply - or at
least any blood that remains within the corpse depending on the nature of
their death - will settle in direct response to gravity.
Post-Mortem lividity usually develops 3 to 6 hours after death.
It first appears as a small petechia-like red spots which later coalesce with
each other to involve bigger areas in the most dependent portions of the
body depending upon the position assumed at the time of death.
3. ONSET OF DECOMPOSITION
In the Philippines like other tropical countries, decomposition is early and the
average time is 24 to 48 hours after death.
It is manifested by the presence of watery, foul-smelling froth coming out of
the nostrils and mouth, softness of the body and presence of crepitation (a
crackling or rattling sound) when pressure is applied on the skin.
4. STAGE OF DECOMPOSITION
The approximate time of death may be inferred from the degree of
decomposition, although it must be made with extreme caution. There are
several factors which modify PUTREFACTION of the body.
5. ENTOMOLOGY OF THE CADAVER
In order to approximate the time of death by the use of the FLIES present in
the cadaver, it is necessary to know the life cycle of the FLIES.
The common FLIES undergo larval, pupal and adult stages.
The usual time for the egg to be hatched into larva is 24 hours so that by the
mere fact that there are maggots in the cadaver, one can conclude that
death has occurred more than 24 hours.
6. STAGE OF DIGESTION OF FOOD IN THE STOMACH
It takes normally 3 to 4 hours for the stomach for the stomach to evacuate its
contents after a meal.
The approximate time of death may be deduced from the amount of food in
the stomach in relation to his last meal.
However, the position and condition of the decedents last meal is influenced by
the following factors:
Size of the Last Meal- A LIGHT MEAL leaves the stomach within 1 to 2 hours
after being eaten. A MEDIUM-SIZED MEAL will require 3 to 4 hours. A HEAVY
MEAL is entirely expelled into duodenum in 4 to 6 hours.
KIND OF MEAL- LIQUID move more rapidly than SEMI-SOLID and the latter
more rapidly than SOLIDS.
PERSONAL VARIATIONS- PSYCHOGENIC PYLORASPASM can prevent departure
of the meal from a stomach for several hours, contrawise, a HYPERMOTILE
STOMACH may enhance entry of food into the duodenum.
OTHER FACTORS:

KINDS OF FOOD EATEN- VEGETABLES may require more time for gastric
digestion. The less fragmentation of the food will require more time to stay in
the stomach
The absence or insufficiency of PEPSIN and other digestive ferments will
delay the food in the stomach.
The absence or insufficiency of the gastric HYDROCHLORIC ACID content and
lesser amount of liquid consumed with solid food will likewise delay gastric
evacuation.
7. PRESENCE OF LIVE FLEAS IN THE CLOTHINGS IN DROWNING CASES
A flea can survive for approximately 24 hours submerged in water. It can no
longer be revived if submerged more than that period.
In temperate countries, people use to wear woolen clothes.
If the body is found in water, the fleas may be found in the woolen clothings.
The fleas recovered must be placed in a watch glass and observed if it still
living.
If the fleas still could move, then the body has been in water for a period less
than 24 hours.
Revival of the life of the fleas is not possible if they are in water for more than
24 hours.
8. AMOUNT OF URINE IN THE BLADDER
The amount of urine in the urinary bladder may indicate the time of death
when taken into consideration, he was last seen voiding his urine.
There are several factors which may modify urination so it must be utilized
with caution.
9. STATE OF CLOTHINGS
A circumstantial proof of the time of death is the apparel of the deceased.
If the victim is wearing street clothes, there is more likelihood that death took
place at daytime.
But if in night gown or pajama, it is more probable that death occurred at
night time.
10. CHEMICAL CHANGES IN THE CEREBRO-SPINAL FLUID (15 HOURS
FOLLOWING DEATH)
Lactic acid increases from 15 mg to to 200 mg per 100 cc.
Non-protein nitrogen increases from 15 to 40 mg.
Amino-acid concentration rises from 1 to 12% following death.
11. POST-MORTEM CLOTTING AND DECOAGULATION OF BLOOD:
Blood clots inside the blood vessels in 6 to 8 hours after death.
Decoagulation of blood occurs at the early stage of decomposition.
The presence of any of these conditions may infer the approximate duration
of death.
12. PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF SOFT TISSUES IN SKELETAL REMAINS

Under ordinary condition, the soft tissues of the body may disappear 1 to 2
years time after burial.
The disappearance of the soft tissues varies and are influenced by several
factors.
When the body is found on the surface of the ground, aside from the natural
forces of nature responsible for the destruction of the soft tissues, external
elements and animals may accelerate its destruction.
13. CONDITION OF THE BONES
If all of the soft tissues have already disappeared from skeletal remains, the
degree of erosion of the epiphyseal ends of long bones, pulverization of fibric
bones and the diminution of weight due to the loss of animal matter may be
the basis of the approximation.
POST-MORTEM CONDITIONS SIMULATING DISEASE, POISONING OR
INJURY:
a. Post-mortem hypostasis simulating contusion or inflammation or poisoning.
b. Blister of the cuticle simulating scalds or burns
c. Swelling, detachment or splitting of the skin simulating injury.
E. PRESUMPTION OF DEATH
Disputable Presumption
Section 3. RULE 131
Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are satisfactory if
uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence:
(w) That after an absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not the
absentee still lives, he is considered dead for all purposes, except for those of
succession.
PRESUMPTION OF DEATH
ART 390 of the New Civil Code
Article 390. After an absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not
the absentee still lives, he shall be presumed dead for all purposes, except for
those of succession.
The absentee shall not be presumed dead for the purpose of opening his
succession till after an absence of ten years. If he disappeared after the age of
seventy-five years, an absence of five years shall be sufficient in order that his
succession may be opened. (n)
ART 391 of the New Civil Code
Article 391. The following shall be presumed dead for all purposes, including the
division of the estate among the heirs:
(1) A person on board a vessel lost during a sea voyage, or an aeroplane which is
missing, who has not been heard of for four years since the loss of the vessel or
aeroplane;
(2) A person in the armed forces who has taken part in war, and has been
missing for four years;

(3) A person who has been in danger of death under other circumstances and his
existence has not been known for four years. (n)
ART 392 of the New Civil Code
Article 392. If the absentee appears, or without appearing his existence is
proved, he shall recover his property in the condition in which it may be found,
and the price of any property that may have been alienated or the property
acquired therewith; but he cannot claim either fruits or rents. (194)
Section 3. RULE 131 of RULES OF COURT
Section 3. Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are
satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other
evidence:
(jj) That except for purposes of succession, when two persons perish in the same
calamity, such as wreck, battle, or conflagration, and it is not shown who died
first, and there are no particular circumstances from which it can be inferred, the
survivorship is determined from the probabilities resulting from the strength and
the age of the sexes, according to the following rules:
1. If both were under the age of fifteen years, the older is deemed to have
survived;
2. If both were above the age sixty, the younger is deemed to have survived;
3. If one is under fifteen and the other above sixty, the former is deemed to have
survived;
4. If both be over fifteen and under sixty, and the sex be different, the male is
deemed to have survived, if the sex be the same, the older;
5. If one be under fifteen or over sixty, and the other between those ages, the
latter is deemed to have survived.
(kk) That if there is a doubt, as between two or more persons who are called to
succeed each other, as to which of them died first, whoever alleges the death of
one prior to the other, shall prove the same; in the absence of proof, they shall
be considered to have died at the same time. (5a)
ART 43 of the New Civil Code
Article 43. If there is a doubt, as between two or more persons who are called
to succeed each other, as to which of them died first, whoever alleges the death
of one prior to the other, shall prove the same; in the absence of proof, it is
presumed that they died at the same time and there shall be no transmission of
rights from one to the other. (33)
Chapter VMEDICO-LEGAL INVESTIGATION OF DEATH
An INQUEST OFFICER is an official of the State charge with the duty of
inquiring into certain matters.
In Medico-legal investigation, an inquest officer is the one charged with the
duty of investigating the manner and cause of death of a person.

He is authorized to summon witnesses and direct any person to perform or


assist in the investigation when necessary.
The following officials of the government are authorized to make death
investigations:
1. The Provincial and City Fiscals
2. Judge of the Courts of First Instance (now Regional Trial Courts)
3. Justice of Peace (now Municipal Trial Courts)
4. The Director of the National Bureau of Investigation
5. The Chief of Police of the City of Manila
6. Solicitor General
THE PROVINCIAL AND CITY FISCALS, JUDGES OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL
COURTS AND MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS
The district health officer, upon the request of any provincial fiscal of a
province within his district, or of any Judge of RTC, or of MTC, shall conduct in
person, when practicable, investigations in cases of death where there is
suspicion that death was caused by the unlawful act or omission of any
person, and shall make such other investigations as may be required in the
proper administration of justice.
THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Republic Act No. 157- AN ACT CREATING THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF
INVESTIGATION
Section 1. There is hereby created a Bureau of Investigation under the
Department of Justice which shall have the following functions:
(a) To undertake investigations of crimes and other offenses against the laws of
the Philippines, upon its own initiative and as public interest may require;
(b) To render assistance, whenever properly requested in the investigation or
detection of crimes and other offenses;
(c) To act a national clearing house of criminal and other informations for the
benefit and use of all prosecuting and law-enforcement entities of the
Philippines, identification records of all persons without criminal convictions,
records of identifying marks, characteristics, and ownership or possession of all
firearms as well as of test bullets fired therefrom;
(d) To give technical aid to all prosecuting and law-enforcement officers and
entities of the Government as well as the courts that may request its services;
(e) To extend its services, whenever properly requested in the investigation of
cases of administrative or civil nature in which the Government is interested;
(f) To undertake the instruction and training of a representative number of city
and municipal peace officers at the request of their respective superiors along
effective methods of crime investigation and detection in order to insure greater
efficiency in the discharge of their duties;

(g) To establish and maintain an up-to-date scientific crime laboratory and to


conduct researches in furtherance of scientific knowledge in criminal
investigation;
(h) To perform such other related functions as the Secretary of Justice may
assign from time to time.
Section 5. Members of the investigation staff of the Bureau of Investigation shall
be peace officers, and as such have the following powers:
(a) To make arrests, searches and seizures in accordance with existing laws and
rules;
(b) To issue subpoena or subpoena duces tecum for the appearance at
Government expense of any person for investigation;
(c) To take and require sworn truthful statements of any person or persons so
summoned in relation to cases under investigation, subject to constitutional
restrictions;
(d) To administer oaths upon cases under investigation;
(e) To possess suitable and adequate firearms for their personal protection in
connection with their duties and for the proper protection of witnesses and
persons in custody: Provided, That no previous special permit for such
possession shall be required;
(f) To have access to all public records and, upon authority of the President of the
Philippines in the exercise of his visitorial powers, to records of private parties
and concerns.
THE CHIEF OF POLICE OF THE CITY OF MANILA:
Sec. 34, R.A. 409 (REVISED CHARTER OF THE CITY OF MANILA) as amended by
Sec. 1, R.A. 1934 CHIEF OF POLICE:
There shall be a chief of police. Who shall cause medico-legal examination by
the medical examiner of the Manila Police Department of victims of violence or
foul play, sex crimes, accidents, sudden death when the cause thereof is not
known, self-inflicted injuries, intoxication, drug addiction, states of malingering
and mental disorders, which are being investigated by the Manila Police
Department or, in exceptional cases, by other agencies requesting assistance of
the Manila Police Department; and shall cause examination by the medical
examiner of the Manila Police Department or by a criminal investigation
laboratory established within said department, of evidences and telltale marks of
crime. He shall have such powers and perform such further duties as may be
prescribed by law or ordinance.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
Sec. 95(b) P.D. 856 (CODE ON SANITATION OF THE PHILIPPINES)
Section 95. Autopsy and Dissection of Remains
(b) Autopsies shall be performed in the following cases:

4. Whenever the Solicitor General, provincial or city fiscal as authorized by


existing laws, shall deem it necessary to disinter and take possession of remains
for examination to determine the cause of death.
STAGES OF MEDICO-LEGAL INVESTIGATION:
1. Crime Scene Investigation (Investigation of the place of commission of the
crime)
2. Autopsy (Investigation of the body of the victim)
1. CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION:
The CRIME SCENE is the place where the essential ingredients of the criminal
act took place. It includes the setting of the crime and also the adjoining
places of entry and exit of both offender and victim
IMPORTANCE OF CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
A great amount of physical evidence may be lost or unrecovered if the
investigation merely starts at the autopsy table or in the medical examining
room.
Blood, semen and other stains, latent finger and foot prints, and articles of
value that may lead to the identification of the offender and victim may be
beyond the comprehension of the investigator if the crime scene is not
investigated.
In violent death cases, the manner and cause of death may be inferred from
the condition of the crime scene. The condition of the crime scene may
indicate struggle, handgun firmly grasped in the palm of the hand of the
deceases may indicate suicide, the presence of great quantity of shed blood
may infer hemorrhage as the cause of death of the victim.
The investigator has the earliest possible opportunity to interview persons
who have knowledge of the circumstances of actual events in the commission
of the criminal act. The proximity of the narration to the actual occurrence
makes it reliable than those given after a lapse of time.