PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE, VS. FABIAN URZAIS Y LANURIAS, ALEX BAUTISTA, AND RICKY BAUTISTA ACCUSED, G.R. No. 207662, April 13, 2016. - The Lawyer's Post.
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The application of disputable presumption found in Section 3 (j), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, that a person found in possession of a thing taken in the doing of a recent wrongful act is the taker and doer of the whole act, in this case the alleged carnapping and the homicide/murder of its owner, is limited to cases where such possession is either unexplained or that the proffered explanation is rendered implausible in view of independent evidence inconsistent thereto.7 In the instant case, accused-appellant set-up a defense of denial of the charges and adhered to his unrebutted version of the story that the vehicle had been sold to him by the brothers Alex and Ricky Bautista. Though the explanation is not seamless, once the explanation is made for the possession, the presumption arising from the unexplained possession may not anymore be invoked and the burden shifts once more to the prosecution to produce evidence that would render the defense of the accused improbable. And this burden, the prosecution was unable to discharge. X x x.
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Evidently, the disputable presumption cannot prevail over accused-appellant’s explanation for his possession of the missing vehicle. The possession having been explained, the legal presumption is disputed and thus, cannot find application in the instant case. To hold otherwise would be a miscarriage of justice as criminal convictions necessarily require proof of guilt of the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt and in the absence of such proof, should not be solely based on legal disputable presumptions.
The carnapping not being duly proved, the killing of the victim may not be treated as an incident of carnapping. Nonetheless, even under the provisions of homicide and murder under the Revised Penal Code, the Court finds the guilt of accused-appellant was not established beyond reasonable doubt.
There were no eyewitnesses to the killing of the victim, Mario Magdato. Again, both courts relied only on the circumstantial evidence of accused-appellant’s possession of the missing vehicle for the latter’s conviction. Shirley, the widow, testified that her husband and their vehicle went missing on 12 November 2002. Dr. Concepcion gave testimony on the cause of death of Mario Magdato and the injuries he had sustained. Most glaringly, no connection had been established between the victim’s gunshot wound which caused his death and the firearm found in the person of accused-appellant. Only SPO2 Figueroa’s testimony gave light on how allegedly accused-appellant was found to have been in possession of the missing vehicle of the victim. But even if this uncorroborated testimony was true, it does not link accused-appellant to the carnapping, much less, the murder or homicide of the victim. And it does not preclude the probability of accused-appellant’s story that he had merely bought the vehicle from the Bautista brothers who have themselves since gone missing.
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