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Criminal Law Case Digest: Calimutan v. People

Calimutan v. People
G.R. No. 152133, February 9, 2006

Lesson:  Proof beyond reasonable doubt, Defense of Stranger, Proximate Cause, intentional felonies and culpable felonies

Laws Applicable: Art. 3, Art. 4, Par. 1

·         February 4, 1996 around 10 am: Cantre and witness Sañano, together with two other companions, had a drinking spree at a videoke bar but as they were headed home, they crossed paths with Calimutan and Michael Bulalacao.
·         Cantre, 26 years old and 5 ft. 9 inches,  had a grudge against Bulalacao, a 15 year-old boy of 5ft. for suspecting that he threw stones at the his house on a previous night so he punched him
·         Seeking to protect Bulalacao and to stop Cantre, Calimutan picked a stone, as big as a man’s fist and hitting Cantre at the left side of his back not noticing that Bulalacao was already able to ran away.
o    Cantre stopped for a moment and held his back and Calimutan desisted from any other act of violence
·         Witness Sañano then brought Cantre home where he complained of backache and also of stomach ache and was unable to eat
·         By night time, he felt cold then warm then he was sweating profusely and his entire body felt numb
o    Having no vehicle, they could not bring him to a doctor so his mother just continue to wipe him with a piece of cloth and brought him some food when he asked. 
o    After eating a little, he vomited. 
o    Shortly after complaining again of his backache and stomach ache, he died.
·         The Post-Mortem Examination Report and Certification of Death, issued and signed by Dr. Ulanday, stated that the cause of death of victim Cantre was cardio-respiratory arrest due to suspected food poisoning
·         With the help of the Lingkod Bayan-Circulo de Abogadas of the ABS-CBN Foundation, an autopsy was done by Dr. Ronaldo B. Mendez which showed that there was internal hemorrhage and massive accumulation of blood in his abdominal cavity due to his lacerated spleen caused by a blunt object like a stone.
·         RTC issued a warrant of arrest and during arraignment Calimutan pleaded not guilty to the crime of homicide
·         RTC: Essentially adopting the prosecution’s account of the incident, held that Calimutan was guilty beyond reasonable doubt of homicide with a penalty of imprisonment from 8 years of Prision Mayor as minimum, to 12 years and 1 day of Reclusion Temporal as maximum, and to indemnify the heirs of Philip Cantre the sum of P50,000 as compensatory damages and the sum of P50,000 as moral damages
o    NOT defense of stranger , because after the boxing Bulalacao, he was able to run thereby the unlawful aggression by Cantre ceased
o    The act of throwing a stone from behind which hit the victim at his back on the left side was a treacherous
o    criminally liable for all the direct and natural consequences of this unlawful act even if the ultimate result had not been intended
·         CA: Affirmed RTC
·         Calimutan filed a petition for review on certiorari contending that the dissimilar findings on the cause of death constituted reasonable doubt

ISSUE: W/N he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of homicide

HELD: NO. MODIFIED Calimutan is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, and is accordingly sentenced to imprisonment for a minimum period of 4 months of arresto mayor to a maximum period of two years and one day of prision correccional. Petitioner Calimutan is further ORDERED to pay the heirs of the victim Cantre the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for the latter’s death and P50,000.00 as moral damages

·         Proof beyond reasonable doubt requires only a moral certainty or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind (NOT absolute certainty and the exclusion of all possibility of error)
o    Dr. Mendez’s testimony as an expert witness is evidence, and although it does not necessarily bind the courts, it is accorded great weight and probative value
§  may sufficiently establish the causal relationship between the stone thrown by the Calimutan and the lacerated spleen of the Cantre which resulted in the latter’s death
·         Proximate cause - cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and WITHOUT which the result would NOT have occurred
o    Prosecution was able to establish that the proximate cause of the death of the Cantre was the stone thrown at him by petitioner Calimutan.
·         Comparing the limited autopsy conducted by Dr. Ulanday and her unconfirmed suspicion of food poisoning of the victim Cantre, as opposed to the exhaustive autopsy performed by Dr. Mendez and his definitive finding of a ruptured spleen as the cause of death, then the latter, without doubt, deserves to be given credence by the courts
·         Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code classifies felonies according to the means by which they are committed, in particular:
o    (1) intentional felonies - existence of malicious intent
§  act is performed with deliberate intent (with malice)
o    (2) culpable felonies - absence of malicious intent
§  act or omission of the offender is NOT malicious
§  the wrongful act results from imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight or lack of skill
·         Absence of intent, Calimutan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the culpable felony of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code
o    Reckless imprudence consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place.