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People v. Dela Cruz – Velasco, Jr.

, J
Plaintiff-Appellee: People of the Philippines
Accused-Appellant: Leozar dela Cruz
Concept: Judicial Admissions; Weight and Sufficiency
of Evidence
Brief Facts: Leozar dela Cruz slit Vincent Pimentel’s
neck with a samurai. Initially, he pleaded not guilty of
the crime of murder. RTC found him guilty beyond
reasonable doubt. On appeal, Dela Cruz said that the
crime he committed was only homicide. CA affirmed
the findings and conviction of the RTC, and noted that
Dela Cruz no longer disputes the fact the he killed
Vincent. SC ruled that the crime committed was indeed
murder as the element of treachery, as gleaned from
the testimony of the eye-witness, was present.
3.
Doctrine: When the appeal of the accused merely
focused on the appreciation of qualifying aggravating
circumstances, it, for all intents and purposes amounts
to owning up to the killing of the victim.
FACTS:
1. (gleaned from the testimonies of Sheryll Blanco
(eye-witness); Carolina Agullana (victim’s commonlaw wife); PO2 Ricardo Tan (investigator); and
P/Insp. Dr. Benjamin Lara): About 7:15pm, April 30,
2003, Sheryll and her friends Arman Taculod, Mark
Anthony Medida and Charissema Daton (Medida’s
wife) were passing time at Mockingbird St., Brgy.
Rizal, Makati.
Dela Cruz was standing about 2 meters from
them
3 girls arrived and handed Dela Cruz a letter;
Dela Cruz left and after about 5-10 minutes,
came back with a two-foot samurai. He was
very angry, cursing and hacking plants with the
samurai.
Mark Anthony and Charissema went inside
their house, while Sheryll and Arman moved to
a store, 6-7m away from Dela Cruz.
Vincent Pimentel arrived, and left Carolina
inside a tricycle. Dela Cruz greeted him and
said that Vincent owes him money. Vincent
then gave Dela Cruz P50 then proceeded to the
alley.
When Vincent returned from the alley, Dela
Cruz suddenly placed his arm around Vincent
and slit Vincent’s neck with the samurai.
Dela Cruz ran away while Vincent staggered
and fell. Carolina and Arman rushed Vincent to
the hospital but the latter died before reaching
it.
Cause of death: “hemorrhagic shock secondary
to an incised wound of the neck. “
2. Defense: Dela Cruz denied the charges and
proffered the defense of alibi. He said that he could
not have been at the scene of the killing for he was
drinking with his friend Mark Magat in Pembo,
Makati from 3-11:00 pm and passed the night at
the latter’s place.
Corroborated by the testimonies of Magat, his
father and grandmother.
The defense also presented Dela Cruz’s codetainees at the Makati City Jail, Mark Anthony
and Christopher Labradores, who testified to
seeing Mark Magat with Vincent prior to the

4.

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killing and seeing Mark toting samurai
immediately after the killing.
The defense tried to pin Arman Taculod as the
assailant of Vincent. Christopher said that he
saw Arman Taculod carrying a samurai in his
hands, and heard a commotion thereafter
caused by the death of Vincent. (Taculod died
before he could testify for the prosecution, but
was able to execute a sworn statement
identifying Dela Cruz as the assailant of
Vincent.)
Mark Anthony Medida, however, was unable to
explain why he identified Dela Cruz as the
assailant of Vincent, and said that the police
merely coerced him to sign a blank piece of
paper.
August 11, 2003 – An Information was filed against
dela Cruz, indicting him for murder. He, “armed
with a samurai, with intent to kill and with
treachery and evident premeditation, and with
superior strength, hacked with a samurai” Vincent
Pimentel.
RTC ruling: guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
murder attended by treachery; sentenced Dela
Cruz to reclusion perpetua, and ordered him to pay
moral damages of P100k and civil indemnity of
P50k.
Believed the testimony of eye-witness Sheryll
since she was unwavering and certain in her
identification
of
the
accused;
Carolina
corroborated such statement
RTC appreciated the testimony of P/Insp. Lara
as to the conclusions regarding the nature and
variety of neck wounds and how they can
cause death in a victim.
Dela Cruz, however, maintained that the crime
committed was only homicide. Thus he
appealed the decision to the appellate court.
CA: affirmed the findings and conviction of the RTC,
but reduced moral damages to P50k and awarded
P25k exemplary damages.
CA noted that Dela Cruz, in his appeal, no
longer
disputes
the
fact
that
he
committed the killing of Vincent. Thus the
sole question now is whether the killing was
attended by treachery so as to qualify it to
murder.

ISSUE and RULING:
1. WON the lower courts erred in appreciating the
qualifying aggravating circumstance of treachery
such that it erred in convicting the accused of
murder instead of homicide. (NO)
2. Is the award of damages proper? (YES)
RATIO:
For a charge of murder to prosper, the prosecution
must prove that: 1) the offender killed the victim,
2) through treachery, or by any of the five
qualifying circumstances.
The elements of murder are: 1) that a person was
killed; 2) that the accused killed him; 3) that the
killing was attended by any of the qualifying
circumstances mentioned in Art. 248. 4) that the
killing is not parricide or infanticide.
The fact of death of Vincent Pimentel is
undisputed, that it is neither parricide nor
infanticide, and that Dela Cruz killed him. This

Essence: attack comes without warning and in a swift. In his appeal before the CA and the one at bench. sir Interpreter: Witness tapped the shoulder of the accused and when asked his name he identified himself as dela Cruz. The CA also correctly award moral damages of P50. 2230 of Civil Code. There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons. which for all intents and purposes amounts to owning up to the killing of Vincent Pimentel. and unexpected manner. exemplary damages increased to P30k. Sir. either qualifying or generic. She was certain and unwavering in her positive identification of Dela Cruz as the assailant of Vincent. Sheryll’s testimony was not at all rebutted by the defense. The fact that Dela Cruz and Vincnet did not quarrel prior to the killing is indicative of the treachery employed by Dela Cruz. Xxx Q: how long that samurai is? A: around 24 inches. affording the hapless. sir. Q: What did dela Cruz use in slashing the neck of Pimentel? A: Samurai. employing means. Treachery was present. The issue of the presence of treachery hinges on the account of eye-witness Sheryll. For treachery to be considered. did they quarrel? A: No. if a crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance. deliberate. affording the victim no opportunity to defend himself. methods or forms in the execution.was established by the trial and appellate courts. Dela Cruz put his arms around him and then slit his neck. much less retaliate. Besides. Q: When Vincent Pimentel paid dela Cruz the amount of P50. what else happened if any? A: When he emerged from the alley. Award of . Sir. Xxx Q: And is this Dela Cruz dela Cruz present in the courtroom today? A: Yes. which tend directly and specially to insure its execution. straight-forward and convincing on how the murder transpired. Based on current jurisprudence. the appeal of Dela Cruz merely focused on the appreciation of the qualifying aggravating circumstance of treachery. Parts of the transcript: Q: when Pimentel walked away from dela Cruz. Q: Immediately before dela Cruz in the vernacular “inakbayan si Vincent Pimentel” did they quarrel? A: No. xxx Q: when he emerged from the alley dela Cruz in the vernacular “inakbayan siya” and afterwards slashed his neck. Also. an award of P30. Also. Pagao: We stipulate. Fiscal: May we ask if the defense is willing to stipulate that the distance is around 2-3 meters Atty. the entitlement of moral damages having been established. Dela Cruz solely questions the appreciation of the qualifying aggravating circumstance of treachery. and 2) means of execution were deliberate or consciously adopted. - - It is clear that the attack was sudden. without risk to the offender arising from the defense which the offended party might make. xxx Q: How far were you in relation to the place where dela Cruz in the vernacular “inakbayan si Vincent Pimentel” and slashed his neck? A: From my place to where you are seated.000 as exemplary damages is justified under Art. two elements must concur: 1) employment of means of execution that gives the persons attacked no opportunity to defend themselves or retaliate. Xxx Q: Please point to him if he is indeed present? A: Yes. the award of exemplary damages is proper. unarmed and unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or escape. sir. Sir. is that correct? A: Yes. The victim was unaware of the imminent attempt on his life. 2. and was not in a position to defend himself.000 in view of the violent death of the victim and the resultant grief to his family. Your Honor. the award of civil indemnity ex delicto of P50. Her testimony was factual.000 in favour of the heirs of Pimentel is in order. DISPOSITIVE: CA decision affirmed.