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People vs. Morial, GR 129295, 15 August 2001
· On January 6, 1996, Paula and Albert Bandibas were killed and robbed.
· As a part of the investigation and as a result of a witness’ testimony, Edwin and Leandro Morial were asked several questions by the policemen and were invited to the police station for continuing investigation.
· They were turned over to SPO4 Andres Fernandez and later interrogated again after they woke up at past 6 in the morning.
· That investigation conducted by SPO4 Fernandez resulted into the admission by Leandro that he was one of those who participated in the robbery with homicide.
· With the latter’s consent, his statements were reduced into writing. SPO4 Fernandez then advised him of his right to remain silent and to have a counsel, whatever will be his answer will be used as evidence in court.
· SPO4 Fernandez volunteered to obtain a lawyer for the suspect, to which Leandro consented.
· Atty. Aguilar was contacted by the former and he first met the latter at January 9, 1996 at about 8:00 in the morning.
· After Leandro agreed to answer voluntarily knowing that the same can be used against him as evidence in court, the investigation was conducted by SPO4 Fernandez with the presence of the counsel.
· After “all the material points” were asked, Atty.
· Aguilar asked the investigator if he can leave due to very important engagement.
· The latter agreed to the lawyer’s request.
· But before leaving, Atty. Aguilar asked Leonardo if he was willing to answer questions in his absence, the latter agreed.
· During and despite Atty. Aguilar’s absence, SPO4 Fernandez continued with the investigation and propounded several more questions to Leonardo, which the latter answered.
Whether or not Leonardo Morial’s right to counsel was waived during the investigation.
Yes. Leonardo was effectively deprived of his right to counsel during the custodial investigation; therefore his quasi-judicial confession is inadmissible in evidence against him and his other co-accused. The Court stressed out that an accused under custodial interrogation must continuously have a counsel assisting him from the very start thereof. SPO4 Fernandez cannot justify that Atty. Aguilar only left after Leonardo had admitted that he and his companions committed the crime. Neither can Atty. Aguilar rationalize that he only left after Leonardo had admitted the “material points”, referring to the participation of the three accused to the crime. Both are invalid since Section 2 of R.A. No. 7438 requires that “any person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation shall at all times be assisted by counsel.” Furthermore, the last paragraph of Section 3 states that “in the absence of any lawyer, no custodial investigation shall be conducted.”
Even granted that Leonardo consented Atty. Aguilar’s departure during the investigation and to answer questions during the lawyer’s absence, such consent was an invalid waiver of his right to counsel and his right to remain silent. Under Section 12, Article III of the Constitution, these rights cannot be waived unless the same is made in writing and in the presence of the counsel. In the case at bar, no such written and counseled waiver of these rights was presented as evidence.
Finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of "Robbery with Homicide," with the aggravating circumstance of dwelling, Leonardo Morial and Nonelito Abiñon are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of death by lethal injection, while Edwin Morial, on account of his minority, is hereby sentenced to the indeterminate penalty of from ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum; to seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as maximum.