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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.