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People of the Philippines, petitioner v Rolusape Sabalones, respondent

GR No. 123485 PANGANIBAN August 31, 1998

DOCTRINE: Transferred intent- error in personae


NATURE: This is a case elevated by the CA to the SC upon refraining on entering a judgment.
FACTS:
On June 1, 1985 at 11:45 PM, respondents including Rolusape Sabalones, armed with firearms, attacked and ambushed
individuals riding in two vehicles resulting to the death of two persons and injury to three others.
According to a witness presented, Sabalones was implicated in the killing of Nabing Velez because of the slapping
incident involving her father-in-law, Federico Sabalones, Sr. and Nabing Velez which took place prior to the death of
Junior Sabalones (whose wake was during time of the commission of the crime).
The conclusion of the trial court and the Court of Appeals that the appellants killed the wrong persons was based on the
extrajudicial statement of Appellant Beronga and the testimony of Jennifer Binghoy. These pieces of evidence
sufficiently show that appellants believed that they were suspected of having killed the recently slain Nabing
Velez, and that they expected his group to retaliate against them.
The Trial Court observed that they went to their grisly destination amidst the dark and positioned themselves in
defense of his turf against the invasion of a revengeful gang of supporters of the recently slain Nabing Velez.
ISSUE: W/N the case is one of aberratio ictus
HELD: NO. The case is not one of aberration ictus but one of error in personae or mistake in identity, as observed by the
OSG.
RATIO:
Transferred intent is used when a defendant intends to harm one victim, but then unintentionally harms a second victim instead.
In this case, the defendant's intent transfers from the intended victim to the actual victim and can be used to satisfy the mens
rea element of the crime that the defendant is being charged with. The transferred intent doctrine is only used for completed
crimes, and is not used for attempted crimes. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/transferred_intent)

Aberratio ictus means mistake in the blow, characterized by aiming at one but hitting the other due to imprecision of the blow. In
the case at bar, the appellants opened fire because they mistook the vehicles to be carrying the avenging men of Nabing Velez.
The fact that they were mistaken does not diminish their culpability. The Court has held that mistake in identity of the victim
carries the same gravity as when the accused zeroes in on his intended victim.