. Briones vs. People
An Information was filed against Briones for the crime of robbery. Briones allegedly took the service firearm of S/G Gual while the latter approached group where the former is involve in a mauling. S/G Gual positively identified Briones. RTC found Briones guilty of the crime of simple theft after giving weight to prosecutions positive testimony as against the defenses of denial and alibi. On his appeal, he raised the issue of self-defense. The Court of Appeals found Briones guilty of robbery under Article 293 in relation to par. of Article 294 of RPC and not of theft.
Whether or not a new trial may be granted on the ground of newly discovered evidence.
No. For new trial to be granted on the ground of newly discovered evidence, the concurrence of the following conditions must obtain: (a) the evidence must have been discovered after trial; (b) the evidence could not have been discovered at the trial even with the exercise of reasonable diligence; (c) the evidence is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative, or impeaching; and (d) the evidence must affect the merits of the case and produce a different result if admitted. In this case, although the firearm surfaced after the trial, the other conditions were not established. Evidence, to be considered newly discovered, must be one that could not, by the exercise of due diligence, have been discovered before the trial in the court below. The determinative test is the presence of due or reasonable diligence to locate the thing to be used as evidence in the trial. Under the circumstances, Briones failed to show that he had exerted reasonable diligence to locate the firearm; his allegation in his Omnibus Motion that he told his brothers and sisters to search for the firearm, which yielded negative results, is purely self-serving. He also now admits having taken the firearm and having immediately disposed of it at a nearby house, adjacent to the place of the incident. Hence, even before the case went to court, he already knew the location of the subject firearm, but did not do anything; he did not even declare this knowledge at the trial below. In petitions for new trial in a criminal proceeding where a certain evidence was not presented, the defendant, in order to secure a new trial, must satisfy the court that he has a good defense, and that the acquittal would in all probability follow the introduction of the omitted evidence. The Court find that Briones’ change of defense from denial and alibi to self-defense or in defense of a relative will not change the outcome for Briones considering that he failed to show unlawful aggression on the part of S/G Molina and/or S/G Gual – the essential element of these justifying circumstances under Article 11 of the Code. The records show that prior to the taking of the firearm, S/G Molina and S/G Gual approached Briones and his companions to stop the fight between Briones’ group and another person. To be sure, there was nothing unlawful in preventing a fight from further escalating and in using reasonable and necessary means to stop it. This conclusion is strengthened by evidence showing that at the time of the incident, Briones was drunk and was with three companions; they all participated in the mauling. For these reasons, the Court find that the CA did not commit any reversible error when it denied Briones' motion for new trial. Likewise, we find no error in the RTC and CA conclusion that he is criminally liable under the criminal information.