Sunday, December 12, 2010

Conspiracy, treachery present.

G.R. No. 189326

G.R. No. 189326, November 24, 2010.

x x x.

We find no reversible error in the assailed Decision.

Findings of trial courts, which are factual in nature and which involve credibility of witnesses, are accorded respect when no glaring errors; gross misapprehension of facts; or speculative, arbitrary, and unsupported conclusions can be gathered from such findings.[7] None of these circumstances is present in this case. The Court therefore sustains the findings of fact of the trial court, as affirmed by the CA, particularly on the weight given to the testimony of the victim’s son, Ramon, Jr.

The testimonies of Ramon, Jr. and the other witnesses firmly established appellant’s identity and his participation in the killing of Ramon, Sr. Thus, Oliver’s testimony that he did not see appellant at the scene of the crime when the victim was killed was obviously a blatant lie, not worthy of any credence.

Based on the narration of events that led to the victim’s death, we find that the finding of conspiracy was indeed warranted.

Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement to commit an unlawful act.[8] It may be inferred from the conduct of the accused before, during, and after the commission of the crime.[9] Conspiracy may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the offense was perpetrated or inferred from the acts of the accused evincing a joint or common purpose and design, concerted action, and community of interest.[10]

The presence of conspiracy was definitely established by the synchronized acts of appellant, Oliver, and Francisco, Jr. in carrying out their common objective of killing the victim. The three assailants simultaneously approached the victim and delivered successive blows that seriously injured the latter.

Though it was not clear who delivered the fatal blow, it does not make any difference in light of the finding of conspiracy. Where conspiracy is shown, the precise modality or extent of participation of each accused becomes secondary, and the act of one may be imputed to all the conspirators. In other words, a person found in conspiracy with the actual perpetrator of the crime by performing specific acts with such closeness and coordination as the one who executed the criminal act is equally guilty as the latter, because, in the eyes of the law, each conspirator is a co-principal and is equally guilty with the other members of the plot. [11]

We also affirm the trial court’s finding that the crime was attended by treachery. There is treachery when the means, methods, and forms of execution gave the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate; and such means, methods, and forms of execution were deliberately and consciously adopted by the accused without danger to his person. What is decisive in an appreciation of treachery is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victim to defend himself.[12] The essence of treachery is the swift and unexpected attack on an unsuspecting and unarmed victim who does not give the slightest provocation.[13]

The victim was not prepared to meet the initial attack made by appellant as he was distracted by Oliver who greeted him, “Merry Christmas, insan!” He was then caught off guard by the subsequent blows delivered by the other assailants, which were successive and gave him no opportunity to defend himself. Moreover, he did not have the means to defend himself as he was unarmed. Hence, treachery was clearly present.

In view of current jurisprudence, we, however, modify the award of damages by increasing the amount of civil indemnity to P75,000.00, moral damages to P75,000.00, and exemplary damages to P30,000.00.[14] As to the amount of P25,000.00 as temperate damages, we find the same reasonable under the circumstances.

x x x.

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