475 PHIL. 426
That on or about the 1st day of April, 1996, at Barangay Arawan, in the Municipality of San Antonio, Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with short firearm, with intent to gain and to rob, by means of force, intimidation and physical violence and taking advantage of nighttime to better accomplish his purpose, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously enter the house of spouses Alipio Bril and Lucia Bril and once inside, take, steal, and carry away cash money amounting to P7,000.00 and assorted jewelries of an undetermined amount, to its damage and prejudice in the aforesaid amount; and on the same occasion and by reason thereof, the above-named accused, with intent to kill and by means of treachery and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot with said firearm said Lucia Bril, inflicting gunshot wound on vital parts of her body, which directly caused her death.Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. Trial ensued.
Contrary to law.
On April 1, 1996, between 11:00 and 12:00 in the evening, Gerardo Bril was going out of their house at Barangay Arawan, San Antonio, Quezon Province, to store water in the drum. As he opened the door, appellant Dominador Werba, also known as Doming Werba, simultaneously entered the house and poked a gun at Gerardo Bril. Then, appellant forced him to go to the room of his parents, Alipio Bril and Lucia Bril. Upon entering the room of his parents, Gerardo Bril was ordered to lie down in prostrate position. He was scared and trembling. (p. 2, TSN dated January 7, 1998)Appellant denied the accusation against him and interposed the defense of alibi. He alleged that on March 30, 1996, he and his wife left for Barangay Masaya, Bai, Laguna to harvest rice. They returned home in the afternoon of April 2, 1996, the day after the crime was committed. He presented three witnesses who testified that they harvested palay with appellant until April 2, 1996.
About that time, Alipio Bril was already asleep. He was awakened because a gun was poked at him by Dominador Werba, saying: “Tatalsik ang bao ng ulo ninyo kapag hindi kayo dadapa!” Out of fear, he and his son Gerardo Bril lied (sic) down in prostrate position. Thereafter, appellant ordered Lucia Bril to bring out the things from the “aparador” and the “baul,” and demanded money and gun from the latter. After searching the “baul,” Lucia Bril handed to her (sic) the amount of P7,000.00. Then, appellant proceeded to the room of Gerardo Bril where he took several pieces of jewelry, namely, a bracelet valued at P10,000.00; a ring valued at P3,500.00; a necklace at P1,000.00 and earrings at P500.00. (pp. 15, 19-20, TSN dated April 2, 1997)
Unsatisfied, appellant demanded for a gun, and proceeded to the room of Michelle Bril, daughter of Gerardo Bril, which was about one (1) meter and a half across the room of Alipio and Lucia Bril. Appellant further searched the room, looking for the gun and the proceeds of the sale of cow (sic). Finding nothing, he ordered that the lights in the rooms of Michelle and Gerardo Bril be switched on. Angrily, appellant brought Michelle and Lucia Bril in (sic) the latter’s room, ordering Lucia Bril to lie down under the bed, kicking her for (sic) several times in the process. (pp. 20-22, TSN dated April 2, 1997)
Soon after, appellant dragged Michelle towards the kitchen. While thereat, he forced Michelle to remove her clothes. On the pain of threats, Michelle removed her T-shirt and her bra. At that time, Lucia Bril came and pleaded to appellant not to do any harm to her granddaughter Michelle. Irked by Lucia Bril’s pleas, appellant dragged both Michelle and Lucia back to the latter’s room. He ordered Lucia Bril to lie down under the bed and kicked her again. Afterwards, appellant dragged Michelle to the door forcing her to remove her jogging pants, thus prompting the latter to cry for help. At that moment, Lucia Bril came in and tried to wrest the gun from appellant. During the struggle, appellant shot Lucia Bril with his black short gun, hitting her in the chest. As Lucia Bril fell down, appellant ran away, bringing with him his gun. The robbery and homicide incident at the Bril’s residence lasted for about one (1) and a half hour. (pp. 9-14, TSN dated November 26, 1996)
Dr. Pedro P. Landicho, Municipal Health Officer of San Antonio, Quezon, conducted the post mortem examination of Lucia Bril on April 3, 1996:
FINDINGS:The body belong (sic) to a pale, female, cadaver, brown complexion not in rigor mortis, about 61 inches in length.
CAUSE OF DEATH: Hemmorhagic Shock secondary to Gun Shot Wound, at Left Chest.
- Gun Shot wound, 1.0 cm in diameter, 5th ICS, Anterior Left Chest (Thorax), 7.0 cm from anterior midline.
(Exh. “A”, Post Mortem Findings dated August 26, 1997)
WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing premises and considerations, this Court finds the accused Dominador Werba also known as Doming Werba GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the special complex crime of Robbery With Homicide, as the felony is defined and penalized by Article 294, paragraph (1) of the Revised Penal Code and, furthermore, applying the provisions of Republic Act No. 7659 entitled “An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on Certain Heinous Crimes,” which took effect on December 31, 1993, hereby sentences the same accused to suffer the maximum penalty of death by lethal injection, to pay the family of the deceased Lucia Bril the sums of P21,500.00, as indemnity for the sum and the value of the jewelries taken away by the accused, P126,000.00 as actual damages incurred by the family of Lucia Bril on account of her death, P50,000.00, as indemnity for the death of Lucia Bril, P50,000.00, as moral damages, and P50,000.00, as exemplary damages, plus costs.Appellant assigns the following alleged errors of the trial court:
Let the entire records of this case be transmitted to the Honorable Supreme Court for automatic review in accordance with the provisions of the law and pertinent rules on criminal procedure.
In the first two errors, appellant raises the issue of credibility. He essentially assails the findings of the trial court on his identification as the perpetrator of the offense charged. He alleges that the findings of the trial court should not be relied upon because the judge who rendered the decision was not the one who tried and heard the testimonies of the witnesses. However, while it is true that Judge Eleuterio Guerrero, who penned the decision, merely took over the case from Judge Jose V. Hernandez, who tried it, it did not necessarily follow that Judge Guerrero could not render a just and valid decision. The complete records of the case, including the transcript of stenographic notes, were with Judge Guerrero and it can be fairly assumed that, in rendering the decision, the records were thoroughly read and evaluated by him. Indeed, the efficacy of a decision is not necessarily impaired by the fact that its writer only took over from a colleague who had earlier presided at the trial.
I. THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUDGE DID NOT EVEN SEE THE DEMEANOR OF THE PROSECUTION’S WITNESSES, AND YET GAVE WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THEIR DOUBTFUL TESTIMONIES. II. THE COURT BELOW ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES, ESPECIALLY THAT OF SPO2 REYNALDO GALA KASILAG. III. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE SPECIAL COMPLEX CRIME OF ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE.
Categorically and positively identifying the appellant, Michelle further testified:
Q: On April 1, 1996 at about 11:30 in the evening, do you remember where were you? A: I was inside our house in Brgy. Arawan, San Antonio, Quezon sir. Q: Where particularly in your house were you? A: I was inside my bedroom sir. Q: While inside your bedroom, did you hear anything unusual? A: Yes sir. Q: What was that unusual thing? A: I heard the voice of Dominador Werba saying “do not shout,” in tagalog, “sasabog ang bao ng ulo ninyo and everybody will be killed,” sir. Q: After hearing that statement what did you do if any? A: I was listening (nakikiramdam) until Dominador Werba passed by my room sir. Q: What did you do if any then? A: I saw Dominador Werba poking his gun at my father Gerardo Bril sir. Q: That person who poked his gun to your father is he in court now? A: Yes sir, he is that man wearing stripe T-shirt. INTERPRETER The person pointed to by the witness when asked give his name Dominador Werba. Q: After that what happened if any? A: Dominador Werba together with my father went to the room of my grandmother and my grandfather sir. xxx xxx xxx Q: After that what happened? A: He poked his gun at my grandmother sir. Q: Did the accused say anything to your lola? A: I heard Werba told my grandmother to bring out the proceeds from the sale of the cow and the pieces of the jewelries and the gun, sir. Q: What happened next? A: The accused told my lola to bring out all the things inside the baul and he found more than P7,000.00 which he got sir. Q: What happened next? A: Werba ordered and dragged my grandmother to the room of my parents and he ordered that the lights be put on, sir. Q: Was the lights actually put on? A: Yes sir. Q:
What happened next?
A: He told my grandmother to get all the things inside the aparador of my parents and he was able to find pieces of jewelries, ring sir, the ring of my father, earrings and bracelet of my mother sir. xxx xxx xxx Q: After that what happened? A: Dominador Werba went to my room together with my grandmother and ordered that the light be put on, sir. Q: Was the light actually put on? A: Yes sir. Q: What happened next? A: He turned his attention to my younger sister May Bril and he hold my sister on her shoulder he asked about the profit from the sale of the cow and of the jewelries and the gun sir. Q: What was the reply of your sister May Bril? A: My sister told him she does not know of any gun and the profit from the sale of the cow is very minimal only and she also said the jewelries are faked (sic) only sir, and then he poked his gun to me sir. Q: What happened when he poked his gun to you? A: He asked me about the profit from the sale of the cow and about the gun and the jewelries sir. Q: What was your answer? A: I told him we don’t have any gun and the money from the sale of the cow have been spent for the construction of the house sir, and that the jewelries are only faked (sic). Q: What happened when you answered that? A: Dominador Werba got angry and he brought me and my grandmother to the room and he ordered my lola to lie flat under the bed and he kicked her sir, for several times. Q: While he was doing this, did he make any statement? A: He said nobody should rise because everybody will be killed sir. Q: What happened next? A: I was dragged going to the kitchen sir. Q: While in the kitchen what happened? A: He was forcing me to remove my clothes sir. Q: Which particular part of your clothes did you or were you ordered to remove? A: My T-shirt and my bra sir. Q: Did you remove them? A: Yes sir because he told me if I will not remove my T-shirt and my bra, sasabog ang ulo naming lahat, sir. Q: What happened next? A: On that particular moment my grandmother came sir. Q: What did your grandmother do or say? A: She was pleading to Dominador Werba not to do anything bad to me or hurt me sir. Dominador Werba got angry and he dragged me and my grandmother to the room of my grandmother sir. Q: What happened next? A: He told my grandmother to lie under the bed and he kicked again my grandmother sir. Q: And then what happened? A: He dragged me going to the door of the three rooms and he was forcing me to remove my jogging pants. Q: What happened next? A: I cried and asked help from my grandmother sir. Q: Did your grandmother help you? A: My grandmother stood up and went to the place where we were and tried to wrest the gun from Dominador Werba sir. Q: What happened next? A: Dominador Werba shot my grandmother sir. Q: Was your grandmother Lucia Bril hit? A: Yes sir, she was hit on her chest. Q: What happened to your grandmother after she was shot by the accused? A: She fell down and Dominador Werba run away sir.
The foregoing narration of facts and the positive identification of appellant were corroborated by witness Alipio Bril:
Q: What made you remember Dominador Werba such that you were able to identify him inside the municipal jail? A: Because our house was lighted, he stayed long in our house when he robbed us and killed my grandmother sir. Q: What particular appearance of Dominador Werba did you remember that made you identify him when he was inside the jail? A: His face sir, his gold teeth, his arms and hair and his body sir. Q: What did you notice with his hair? A: His hair has natural curl. Q: What about his eyes? A: Maliit na mabagsik sir. Q: What about his body? A: He is short and dark sir.
The prosecution witnesses who identified appellant as the perpetrator of the crime were members of the victim’s family husband Alipio, son Gerardo and granddaughter Michelle. Mere relationship of a witness to the victim does not impair his credibility. On the contrary, a witness’ relationship to the victim of a crime makes his testimony even more credible as it would be unnatural for a relative interested in vindicating a crime done to their family to accuse somebody other than the real culprit.
Q: Now you said that this person Lucia Bril is your wife, where is she now? A: She is already dead, sir. Q: Do you know why she died? A: Yes, sir. Q:
Why did she die?
A: Because she was shot by Dominador Werba, sir. Q: This Dominador Werba, is he in court? A: Yes sir. Q: Please point to him? A: That one with handcuffs, sir. INTERPRETER: The person pointed to by the witness identified himself as Dominador Werba your Honor. ATTY. QUITAIN: Before today how long have you known the accused Dominador Werba whom you have just pointed to this honorable court a moment ago? A: More or less ten (10) years, sir. Q:
Why do you know the accused Dominador Werba for about ten (10) years?
A: Because I bought from him a cow for three (3) times already, sir. Likewise, witness Gerardo Bril testified: Q: Where was your daughter Michelle Bril on April 1, 1996 between 11 and 12 o’clock in the evening? A: Inside our house, sir. Q:
Now, at that time, more or less, what were you doing, if any?
A: I was then going out of the house to store water in the drum and I opened the door and, simultaneously, Doming entered the house and poked a gun at me, sir. Q: Who is this Doming? If this Doming is inside the courtroom, please point him out? A: That one at the middle sir. (The person pointed to stood up and when asked of (sic) his name, replied that he is Dominador Werba). Q: In what part of your body did Doming poke a gun at you? A: Here, sir. (Witness pointing to his forehead). Q: And then, what happened when he poked his gun at you? A: I was forced to go to the room of my parents, sir. Q: And after inside (sic) the room of your parents, what happened next? A: I was told to lie down, face down, sir. Q: Did you actually lie down face downward? A: Yes sir.
Art. 294. Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons – Penalties – Any person guilty of robbery with the use of violence against or intimidation of any person shall suffer:
- The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death, when by reason or on occasion of the robbery, the crime of homicide shall have been committed; or when the robbery shall have been accompanied by rape or intentional mutilation or arson.