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PEOPLE v.

VERZOLA
December 21, 1977 | Antonio, J. | Burden of Proof -Rule 131, Sec. 1 - Criminal Cases

PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE: People of the Philippines


DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Ricardo Verzola and Josefina Molina
SUMMARY: Verzola clubbed Bernardo Molina, Josefina's husband, to death. Josefina helped Verzola bring Bernardo's
bloodstained body down the stairs of her house. Verzola then went to the police and reported that Bernardo died in an accident. In
Verzola's extra-judicial confession, he admitted to clubbing Bernardo. Josefina said she witnessed the crime. Later, Verzola said he
killed Bernardo in self-defense. Josefina said she didn't witness the crime but she saw Bernardo trying to be revived by Verzola.
Both Josefina and Verzola claimed that they weren't aware of the contents of their extra-judicial confession and that they were made
to sign them by the police without being able to read the contents of their confession. CFI said they were both guilty of murder,
Verzola as the principal and Josefina as the accessory. SC ruled Verzola was the only one guilty and acquitted Josefina, stating that
Verzola DID NOT present proof that he was justified in killing Bernardo with clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence.
DOCTRINE: Once an accused has admitted the killing of a human being, the burden is on him to establish the existence of nay
circumstance which may justify the killing or at least attenuate the offense committed. To establish his exculpation, or the
justification for the act, he must prove such affirmative allegation by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence: He must rely on
the strength of his own weakness and not on the weakness of that for the prosecution, for even if the prosecution was weak, it could
not be disbelieved after the accused himself had admitted the killing. In this case, it is evident that no such proof was adduced by
Verzola.

FACTS: clubbed Bernardo several times.


1. Bernardo Molina, the victim, was the husband of accused He admitted that he was under Bernardo and
Verzola's co-appellant, Josefina Molina. Josefina's house and noticed Josefina was awake. He
Bernardo was clubbed to death in his own house by implied they had sex under her house. Josefina said
Verzola in the presence of Josefina. Bernardo was planning to kill Verzola. Upon learning
After the murder, Bernardo's body was carried down this, he clubbed Bernardo while he was sleeping. He
by Verzola and Josefina to the ground of the house. also said Josefina had been his paramour for 10 years
Verzola then went to his house, changed his clothes and she was the only witness to the crime.
and threw his bloodstained weater, undershirt, and Verzola was brought to Judge Valera's residence and
underwear, including the piece of wood he used to informed him of his Constitutional rights. Verzola
club Bernardo to death, inside his toilet. apparently gave the statement voluntarily under oath.
Verzola then went to the municipal building and Verzola guided the police to his house where, in their
reported to the police that Bernardo died in an presence, he retrieved from the toilet his bloodstained
accident. clothes as well as the piece of wood he used to club
The police, together with the Municipal Health Bernardo.
Officer, the Municipal Judge, and a photographer 4. Both Verzola and Josefina admitted that it was Verzola who
went to the house to conduct the investigation. They inflicted the fatal blows to Bernardo. However, Verzola, after
found Bernardo's body sprawled at the foot of the impugning the truth of the facts contained in his extra-judicial
stairs, blood oozing from his mouth, nose and ears. confession, said he did so in self-defense.
There were also bloodstains on the floor of the Verzola testified again, saying that he was feeding his
bedroom of the house, on the mat, as well as on the 2 cows in front of his house when heard Josefina's
beddings of the deceased. The bloodstains left a trail cries for help. He heard the loud voice of a man
to the bamboo ladder, where some of the stains could saying, "Vulva of your mother, I will kill you" and
be found on the ladder's steps. when he entered the Molinas' house, he saw Josefina
2. When Josefina was questioned by the police, she said the crouching in a corner being treated by Bernardo.
assailant of her husband was Verzola. Bernardo cursed them again and as Bernardo picked
She was then brought to the Office of the Chief of a bolo up from the floor, Verzola struck him twice
Police, where she gave a written extra-judicial with the piece of wood on the head. After Bernardo
statement that said that her husband raped her while fell, Verzola tried to revive him by placing his head
they were sleeping that night, and Verzola clubbed on his lap and shaking him while saying, "Hoy, hoy,
Bernardo to death. Afterward, she heard the sound of hoy". He explained this was the reason why he had
a body being dragged downstairs and hear Verzola bloodstains on his clothes. When Josefina asked him
say he was leaving and warned her not to say what happened, he said Bernardo met an accident.
anything. When she looked out of the door, she They both carried Bernardo's victim down the stairs
already saw her husband lying at the foot of the because they wanted to bring him to the hospital.
stairs. This was a sworn statement made by Josefina Since it was too far and too dark, they left the body
in front of Municipal Judge Valera. on the ground. Verzola instructed Josefina to get help
3. At the time Josefina was being questioned, Verzola was and went home. He changed his clothes and threw his
picked up by the police and brought to the municipal building bloostained clothes inside the toilet, went to the
and also executed a written statement admitting that he police, and reported that Bernardo had an accident.
5. Josefina testified saying that Bernardo was jealous and they More significant, however, are the undisputed
fought. Bernardo boxed and strangled her and she shouted for physical facts of the case, such as nature, character
help, and that was when Verzola entered the room. While she and location of the wounds sustained by the deceased
was still crouching with her face covered, she heard a thud and and the presence of the bloodstains on the beddings
saw that Verzola was shaking Bernardo's head while of the victim. These facts and circumstances belie the
Bernardo's head on his lap. Verzola was saying "Hoy, hoy, claim of the appellant that he clubbed the victim in
hoy". Out of fear, she assisted Verzola in carrying Bernardo's self-defense. On the contrary, they sufficiently
body at the foot of the stairs of her house. After seeing indicate that the fatal injuries were inflicted upon the
Bernardo's wounds, she became afraid and went up the house victim when the latter was lying defenseless on the
where her children were sleeping. floor, as he was either sleeping or was just beginning
6. Both Josefina and Verzola claimed that they weren't aware to wake up.
of the contents of their extra-judicial confession and that they
were made to sign them by the police without being able to
read the contents of their confession. RE: JOSEFINA'S ACQUITTAL (IN CASE SIR ASKS):
7. CFI found Verzola and Josefina guilty of murder, with Although appellant Josefina Molina admitted in her extra-
Verzola as the principal to suffer life imprisonment and judicial statement that she was the paramour of her co-
Molina as an accessory to suffer an indeterminate penalty of 6 appellant for over a year, there is no proof that she had
years of prision correccional. Hence this appeal. knowledge of the criminal design of her co-appellant.
Neither has she cooperated with him by previous or
ISSUE RELEVANT TO OUR CLASS: WON Verzola is simultaneous acts, much less is there any showing that she
guilty of murdering Bernardo Molina? YES. supplied the principal with material or moral aid. Her only
participation was in assisting Verzola in bringing the body
of the deceased to the ground.
RULING: Judgment affirmed insofar as Verzola is So can Josefina be held criminally liable as an accessory
concerned, but the judgment against Josefina Molina is for assisting Verzalo in bringing the body of Bernardo to
reversed, acquitting her. the ground? NO. SC disagrees with CFI's findings that
Josefina bringing down Bernardo's body was to destroy
RATIO: the body of the crime. There is no iota of proof that
1. There can be no question that once an accused has admitted Josefina Molina ever attempted "to destroy the body of the
the killing of a human being, the burden is on him to establish crime" or to make it appear that death of the victim was
the existence of any circumstance which may justify the accidental. It must be noted that Josefina testified that she
helped Verzola in bring the body of the deceased down the
killing or at least attenuate the offense committed. To establish
stairs accuse of fear. Even if she assisted hVerzola without
his exculpation, or the justification for the act, he must prove duress, simply assisting Verzola in bringing the body down
such affirmative allegation by clear, satisfactory and the house to the foot of the stairs and leaving said body for
convincing evidence. He must rely on the strength of his own anyone to see, cannot be classified as an attempt to conceal
evidence and not on the weakness of that for the prosecution, or destroy the body of the crime, the effects or instruments
for even if that were weak, it could not be disbelieved after the thereof, must be done to prevent the discovery of the crime.
accused himself had admitted the killing. IN THIS CASE: It In the case at bar, the body was left at the foot of the stairs
is evident that no such proof was adduced by Verzola. at a place where it was easily visible to the public. Under
such circumstances, there could not have been any attempt
Verzola's conduct immediately after he committed on the part of Josefina to conceal or destroy the body of the
the crime is incompatible with the reaction of one crime.
who killed another in legitimate self-defense. An accessory does not participate in the criminal design,
Although he claims that he brought the victim down nor cooperate in the commission of the felony, but, with
knowledge of the commission of the crime, he
the stairs in order to bring him to the hospital, yet
subsequently takes part in 3 ways: (a) by profiting from the
when he was able to get a jeep he did not utilize it for effects of the crime; (b) by concealing the body, effects or
that purpose but instead used it to go to town. instruments of the crime in order to prevent its discovery;
Although Verzola was present at the scene of the and (c) by assisting in the escape or concealment of the
crime when the police were investigating the case, he principal of the crime, provided he acts with abuse of his
kept quiet about the incident. public functions or the principal is guilty of treason,
It was only from Josefina Molina that the police parricide, murder, or an attempt to take the life of the Chief
learned for the first time that Verzola was the Executive, or is known to be habitually guilty of some
other crime. The main difference separating accessories
assailant of Bernardo. Even then, Josefina had to
after the fact the responsibility of the accessories is
request the police authorities to bring her to the subsequent to the consummation of the crime and
poblacion so that she could talk more freely about the subordinate to that of the principal.
killing.
For his part, Verzola attempted to conceal his
participation in the crime by hiding inside his toilet
his bloodstained clothes and the weapon that he used
in clubbing the deceased. These actions reveal a
behavior which is incompatible with the reaction of
one who acted in legitimate self-defense.