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People vs. Baldogo
G.R. No.128106, January 24, 2003
Julio Camacho, Sr. and his wife had four children, which include a fourteen-year old Jorge and twelve-year old Julie. He and his family lived in a compound inside the sub-colony. Accused-appellant and Bermas, inmates of the penal colony, were assigned as domestic helpers of the Camacho family. One evening on February 22, 1996, accused-appellant and Bermas served dinner in the house of the Camachos. Afterwards, Julio Sr. left the house. Only Jorge and Julie were left in the house. Momentarily after Julio Sr. had left, Julie was perturbed when she heard a loud sound. This prompted Julie to stand up and run to the kitchen. She was appalled to see Jorge sprawled on the ground near the kitchen, face down and bloodied. Standing over Jorge were accused-appellant and Bermas, each armed with a bolo. The accused-appellant overtook Julie, tied her hands at her back and placed a piece of cloth in her mouth to prevent her from shouting for help. The three then proceeded to climb the mountain. The moment when Bermas and accused-appellant had left, Julie decided to return to the lowlands and sought help from a certain Nicodemus who turned over Julie to police officers. The trial court convicted accused-appellant of murder with the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation, abuse of superior strength, and recidivism.
Whether or not the trial court erred in appreciating the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation, taking advantage of superior strength, and quasi-recidivism
Yes. While the Court agrees that accused-appellant is guilty of murder, it does not agree with the rulings of the trial court that the crime was qualified by evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength. A finding of evident premeditation cannot be based solely on mere lapse of time from the time the malefactor has decided to commit a felony up to the time that he actually commits it. In this case, the prosecution failed to prove evident premeditation. The barefaced fact that accused-appellant and Bermas hid the bag containing their clothing under a tree not constitute clear evidence that they decided to kill Jorge and kidnap Julie. It is possible that they hid their clothing therein preparatory to escaping from the colony. Hence, abuse of superior strength cannot be deemed to have attended the killing of Jorge. What is clear is that the killing of Jorge was qualified by treachery. The Court has previously held that the killing of minor children who by reason of their tender years could not be expected to put up a defense is attended by treachery. Furthermore, quasi-recidivism as defined in Article 160 of the Revised Penal Code is alleged. In the present case, the prosecution adduced in evidence merely the excerpt of the prison record of accused-appellant showing that he was convicted of homicide by the trial court with a penalty which he was serving at the penal colony. The excerpt of the prison record is not the best evidence under Section 3, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court, said excerpt is merely secondary or substitutionary evidence which is inadmissible, absent proof that the original of the judgment had been lost or destroyed or that the same cannot be produced without the fault of the prosecution. Therefore, the aggravating circumstance of quasi- recidivism cannot be appreciated in this case.