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Jimenez v. People
Montero, Jimenez, along with other co-conspirators were charged of murder for the killing of Ruby Rose. The Information was filed pursuant to the sworn statements executed by Montero confessing his participation in the killing. Montero thereafter filed a motion for his discharge as a state witness for the prosecution. RTC’s Acting Presiding Judge Hector B. Almeyda denied the motion while Judge Docena, the newly-appointed regular judge, reversed Judge Almeyda’s order granting the motion. Arguing against the decision of Judge Docena, Petitioner Jimenez raised the following contentions: (1) the decision is not compliant with the Rules because there was no hearing conducted; (2) there is no absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested; (3) the testimony of said accused cannot be substantially corroborated in its material points because of the discrepancies in Montero’s statements and the physical evidence, such as the absence of "busal" in the mouth of the retrieved cadaver; and (4) Montero appears to be the most guilty because a principal by direct participation is more guilty than the principal by inducement as the Revised Penal Code penalizes the principal by inducement only when the principal by direct participation has executed the crime.
Whether or not Montero should be discharged as a state witness.
On the first issue, Jimenez is estopped from raising the issue of lack of hearing prior to the discharge of Montero as a state witness. Jimenez did not raise this issue when Acting Judge Almeyda denied the motion to discharge. Furthermore, Supreme Court emphasized that actual hearing is not required provided that the parties have both presented their sides on the merits of the motion.
On the second issue, the SC ruled that the testimony of Montero is an absolute necessity because not one of the accused-conspirators, except Montero, was willing to testify on the alleged murder of Ruby Rose and their participation in her killing. He alone is available to provide direct evidence of the crime.
On the third issue, Montero’s testimony can be substantially corroborated The statements of Montero are far more material than the inconsistencies, at least for purposes of the motion to discharge. The alleged discrepancies in the physical evidence are matters that should properly be dealt with during the trial proper.
On the last issue, the Supreme Court ruled that Montero is not the most guilty to the murder. By jurisprudence, "most guilty" refers to the highest degree of culpability in terms of participation in the commission of the offense and does not necessarily mean the severity of the penalty imposed. Thus, as a rule, for purposes of resolving a motion to discharge an accused as a state witness, what are controlling are the specific acts of the accused in relation to the crime committed. From the evidence submitted by the prosecution, Montero was part of the planning of the murder and was also part of the execution of the murder. However, he had no direct participation in the actual killing of Ruby Rose. The actual killing of Ruby Rose was executed by accused Lennard, one of the co-accused.
In view of the foregoing, the SC granted the motion to discharge Montero as a state witness.