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Digested Cases in Legal Medicine

Mark Anthony S Pabon

In Partial Fulfillment
of the requirements for the subject
Legal Medicine
Digest Cases
HINDANG, Respondent.

G.R. No. 151993, October 19, 2011



Petitioner Maritime Factors, Inc., a manning agency, engaged the

services of Danilo R. Hindang (Danilo) to work as a seaman. On July 27,
1994, while within the territorial jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia and on board the vessel, three of the vessels crew found Danilo's
body inside the locker (wardrobe) of his cabin. Danilo was found hanging by
a strap on his neck in a kneeling position. They turned over Danilo's body to
the Saudi police authorities Dr. Ossman Abdel Hameed, the Medical
Examiner of the Eastern Region, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducted an
autopsy on Danilo's remains and concluded that Danilo committed suicide
by hanging himself.Respondent Bienvenido R. Hindang, brother of the
deceased seaman Danilo, filed for death compensation benefits. Petitioner
claimed that based on Dr. Hameed's medical jurisprudence report, Danilo
committed suicide by hanging himself; thus, his death is not compensable.
Petitioner submitted a photocopy of the fax transmission of the medical
jurisprudence report of Dr. Hameed.

The LA found that Danilo did not commit suicide, thus, the claim for
his death benefit must prosper. The NLRC rendered a Resolution which
affirmed in toto the LA decision. The CA denied the petition and affirmed
the NLRC resolutions.


Whether Danilo committed suicide during the term of his employment

contract which would exempt petitioner from paying Danilo's death
compensation benefits to his beneficiaries.


The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the LA, NLRC, and CA.

The SC gave credence to Dr. Hameeds medical report establishing

that Danilo committed suicide by hanging himself. Dr. Hameed conducted
the autopsy on Danilo's remains immediately after the latter's death. He saw
first-hand the condition of Danilo's body, which upon his examination led
him to conclude that Danilo died by hanging himself. His report was
comprehensive and more detailed. In Dr. Hameeds medical report, as well as
Dr. Reyes post mortem examination, both reports did not mention of any
showing of signs that there was struggle on the part of Danilo to defend
himself from an intruder. Both reports did not report any marks of violence
in the other parts of Danilos body. Thus, Dr. Hameed's medical report,
corroborated by the written report of Danilo's fellow crew members that the
door was locked from the inside when they found Danilo hanging in his
wardrobe, only shows that he committed suicide. Thus the petitioner was
able to prove that Danilo's death was attributable to his deliberate act of
killing himself by committing suicide.
CLIMACO, Appellant

G.R. No. 199403, June 13, 2012



The dangerous drugs seized from Climacoduring the buy bust

operation were marked as TR-B and TR-R. However, the Chemistry Report
submitted to the trial court shows that the dangerous drugs examined and
confirmed to be methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu by the forensic
chemist were marked as GSC1 and GSC2.

The second level court found the appellant guilty of illegal possession
and sale of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drugs. On appeal,
the Court of Appeals, affirmed the RTC Decision.


Whether the guilt of Climaco for the crimes of illegal sale and illegal
possession of shabu, a dangerous drug, was proven beyond reasonable


Since what was seized (TR-B and TR-R) from Climaco at the time of
the buy-bust operation was different from the dangerous drugs submitted
(GSC1 and GSC2) to the forensic chemist for review and evaluation, the
chain of custody over the dangerous drugs was broken and the integrity of
the evidence submitted to the trial court was not preserved, casting doubt on
the guilt of Climaco.

To establish guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in cases

involving dangerous drugs, it is important that the substance illegally
possessed in the first place be the same substance offered in court as exhibit.
This chain of custody requirement ensures that unnecessary doubts are
removed concerning the identity of the evidence. When the identity of the
dangerous drug recovered from the accused is not the same dangerous drug
presented to the forensic chemist for review and examination, nor the same
dangerous drug presented to the court, the identity of the dangerous drug is
not preserved due to the broken chain of custody. With this, an element in
the criminal cases for illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs,
the corpus delicti, is not proven, and the accused must then be acquitted
based on reasonable doubt.


G.R. No. 141801, June 25, 2001



The petitioner was charged with Homicide for the shooting of Aurelio
Manalo, Jr. which resulted to his death. Petitioner assailed the prosecution
for its failure to conduct ballistics and paraffin tests. He presumed that no
such tests were made by the prosecution in order to "deliberately suppress"
the results thereof, which might exculpate him from the offense.


Whether the failure to conduct ballistic and paraffin test is fatal to the
prosecution of the crime.


The petitioners contention is untenable. The choice of what evidence

to present, or who should testify as a witness is within the discretionary
power of the prosecutor and definitely not for the courts to dictate. In any
case, the presentation of the weapon (or the slugs, as in this case) and
ballistic examination are not prerequisites for conviction. Further, paraffin
tests have never been considered to be foolproof.In the present case there are
ample evidence on record to warrant petitioners conviction for the crime of
LEONORA CEBALLOS, petitioner, vs. Intestate Estate of the Late

G.R. No. 155856, May 28, 2004



Petitioner Leonora EmparadoCeballos is the registered owner of a

certain parcel of land consisting of 53,301 square meters and covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-948 of the Register of Deeds for the
Province of Cebu. Sometime in October 1980, petitionerobtained a loan
fromEmigdio Mercado as the latter was also known to be in the business of
lending money. She was able to borrow the amount of P12, 000.00 payable
in two (2) months and to secure said loan, she executed in favor of Emigdio
Mercado a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage over the subject property. She
was not able to pay her mortgage indebtedness to Emigdio Mercado within
the stipulated period. On February 13, 1982, a Deed of Absolute Sale was
executed whereby the mortgaged property was sold to Emigdio Mercado for
the price of P16,500.00. Said instrument contained the signatures of
petitioner and her husband NarcisoCeballos and was notarized. It appears
that sometime in 1990, [petitioner] offered to buy back the property from
Emigdio Mercado for the price ofP30,000.00 but the latters wife refused
since the same was already transferred in their names under TCT No. TF-
3252 issued on June 1, 1987. Emigdio Mercado died on January 12, 1991.

Petitioner claimed that the said Deed of Absolute Sale is an absolute

fabrication with the signatures therein appearing to have been of hers and
her husbands, were absolute forgeries. Petitioner submitted said deed of
sale to disinterested third parties to confirm its being spurious; she sought
the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP) which found that said
document of sale is a forgery; and hence, it is patent that the transfer of title
on the property was done through fraud.

Both the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals held that
petitioner had failed to prove by the requisite evidence her allegation of
forgery in the subject Deed of Absolute Sale.The Ca had further held that
the trial court had observed the correct process of identification first, by not
completely relying on the findings or statements by the handwriting expert
presented by appellant as to the existence of forgery in the questioned
document, and more important, in considering both similarities and
dissimilarities between the questioned signatures and the standard signatures
as to extract by such comparison between the two (2) sets of signatures the
habitual and characteristic resemblance which naturally appears in the
genuine writing. The apparent dissimilarities are overshadowed by the
striking similarities and therefore, fail to overcome the presumption of
validity in favor of the duly notarized Deed of Absolute Sale.


1. Whether the questioned signatures are forgeries; and

2. Whether the appellate court erred in disregarding the finding of
expert witness in ruling that the signatures were not forgeries.


On the first issue, the courts a quo had sufficient factual basis in
holding that the questioned signatures were not forgeries. Although there
were dissimilarities between the questioned and the standard signatures, the
CA also found between them "striking similarities as to indicate the habitual
and characteristic writing of the appellant. The apparent dissimilarities are
overshadowed by the striking similarities and, therefore, fail to overcome the
presumption of validity in favor of the duly notarized Deed of Absolute
Anent the second issue, well-settled is the rule that expert opinion is
never conclusive. Courts may exercise discretion in accepting or overruling
the opinions of handwriting experts. Clear and convincing evidence is
required to overturn the presumption of validity of a notarized deed of
absolute sale. Absent such species of evidence, the presumption stands. The
Supreme Court cited from the book of Justice Francisco, a learned authority
in Remedial Law that: Expert opinions are not ordinarily conclusive in the
sense that they must be accepted as true on the subject of their testimony, but
are generally regarded as purely advisory in character; the courts may place
whatever weight they choose upon such testimony and may reject it, if they
find it is inconsistent with the facts in the case or otherwise unreasonable.
and SUSAN T. JOVEN, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON
and POLICARPIO CARUNGIN, respondents.

G.R. No. 140472, June 10, 2002



The petitioners are sisters and the children of NicanorTeodoro and

Francisca Ciriaco. They filed their complaint in 1982 alleging that their
mother was the owner of the subject property which was titled in her name
under OCT No. 11757. Said property is now covered by TCT No. 90689 in
the name of respondent United Church of Christ in the Philippines for this
was donated to it by the Commission on Ecumenical Mission in that Deed of
Donation dated July 1, 1977. Petitioners claim that their parents never sold
the lot to anyone else, and that their purported signatures on the impugned
Deed of Sale are forgeries.

The petitioners asked for signature verification of the said deed of sale
by the NBI and the PC. In its Questioned Document Report No. 241-780 the
NBI made the finding that the sample and questioned signatures of Francisca
were not written by the same person, while no definite opinion was given as
to Nicanors signatures because of the insufficiency in numbers of his sample
signatures. The PC Crime Laboratory examination came to the conclusion
that the signatures of both Francisca and Nicanor were written by persons
other than the said spouses.

The RTC rendered its first decision of the case dismissing the
complaint of petitioners on the grounds of prescription and laches. The case
was appealed to the Supreme Court. It ruled that there was the case did not
prescribe and that there was no laches and remanded the case back to the
RTC. Upon remand, the court a quo rendered the herein assailed judgment in
favor of petitioners declaring the nullity of the deed of sale and the TCT No.
90689 due to forgery. The CA reversed the RTC holding that the signatures
were not forged. The appellate court doubted the findings of the NBI and the
PC handwriting experts, because the documents from which the sample
signatures were taken were either mere photocopies, or dated years away
from the questioned Deed of Sale of 1936.


Whether the signatures of NicanorTeodoro and Francisca Ciriaco

were falsified.

Resort to handwriting experts is not mandatory or indispensable to the

examination or the comparison of handwriting. A finding of forgery does not
depend entirely on the testimonies of handwriting experts, because the judge
must conduct an independent examination of the questioned signature in
order to arrive at a reasonable conclusion as to its authenticity.

In the case of Gamido vs. Court of Appeals (citing the case of Alcon
vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 162 SCRA 833), the Court held that the
authenticity of signatures is not a highly technical issue in the same sense
that questions concerning, e.g., quantum physics or topology or molecular
biology, would constitute matters of a highly technical nature. The opinion
of a handwriting expert on the genuineness of a questioned signature is
certainly much less compelling upon a judge than an opinion rendered by a
specialist on a highly technical issue. A judge must therefore conduct an
independent examination of the signature itself in order to arrive at a
reasonable conclusion as to its authenticity.

After examining and analyzing the subject signatures, the SC found

no substantial indicia or reason to suspect their authenticity. Contrary to the
findings of the NBI and PC, upon comparison of the questioned signature of
Francisca with her sample signatures the SC found resemblances but no
stark and distinguishing difference. The slight dissimilarities do not indicate
forgery for these are natural, expected and inevitable variations in genuine
signatures made by one and the same person. Even the sample signatures of
Nicanor submitted by the appellees show clear variations in structure,
flourish, and style. It must be pointed out that the crux of the matter here is
forgery and any positive assertion of it cannot just be accepted blandly.
Forgery cannot be presumed; it must be proved by clear and convincing
evidence. Those who make the allegation of forgery have the burden of
proving it since a mere allegation is not evidence (Tenio-Obsequio vs. CA
230 SCRA 550). The evidence of the appellees failed to prove the forgery
they claim.
G.R. No. 182555


G.R. No. 185123


CALMAand JOEL DE JESUS y VALDEZ,Accused-Appellants.
G.R. No. 187745

September 7, 2010



These consolidated cases arose in connection with the killing of

Colonel Rolando N. Abadilla (Abadilla). In the morning of June 13, 1996,
Abadilla was caught in traffic while traversing Katipunan Avenue. While on
a stop position, four men armed with handguns surrounded the said car and
fired several successive shots at him.

As a result of follow-up operations, Joel de Jesus, alias Tabong, was

apprehended on June 19, 1996. Joel thereafter identified his cohorts and thus
were apprehended during further follow-up operations conducted on June
20, 1996.

The principal witness for the prosecution was Freddie Alejo, who
testified that as a security guard he was then assigned at 211
KatipunanAvenue, Blue Ridge, Quezon City, and that he was at a vantage
point wherein he couldrecognize the relative positions and participations of
the ambushers. In his KaragdagangSalaysay dated June 21, 1996 Alejo
positively identified Joel and a Lorenzo de los Santos during a police line-
up. Alejo confirmed these two as the persons who served as look outs and
had pointed a gun at him.

Appellants assailed the out-of-court identification made by Alejo who

pointed to appellant Joel de Jesus and Lorenzo delos Santos in a line-up at
the police station together with police officers.

Whether the out of court identification by the lone witness for the
prosecution is valid.


The Supreme Court cited the case of People v. Teehankee, Jr. wherein
the SC explained the procedure for out-of-court identification and the test to
determine the admissibility of such identification, thus:

Out-of-court identification is conducted by the police in various ways. It

is done thru show-ups where the suspect alone is brought face to face
with the witness for identification. It is done thru mug shots where
photographs are shown to the witness to identify the suspect. It is also
done thru line-ups where a witness identifies the suspect from a group of
persons lined up for the purpose. . . In resolving the admissibility of and
relying on out-of-court identification of suspects, courts have adopted the
totality of circumstances test where they consider the following factors,
viz: (1) the witness opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the
crime; (2) the witness degree of attention at that time; (3) the accuracy of
any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level of certainty
demonstrated by the witness at the identification; (5) the length of time
between the crime and the identification; and, (6) the suggestiveness of
the identification procedure.

Applying the totality-of-circumstances test, we thus reiterate that

Alejos out-court-identification is reliable, for reasons that, first, he was
very near the place where Abadilla was shot and thus had a good view of
the gunmen, not to mention that the two (2) lookouts directly approached
him and pointed their guns at them; second, no competing event took
place to draw his attention from the event; third, Alejo immediately gave
his descriptions of at least two (2) of the perpetrators, while affirming he
could possibly identify the others if he would see them again, and the
entire happening that he witnessed; and finally, there was no evidence
that the police had supplied or even suggested to Alejo that appellants
were the suspects, except for Joel de Jesus whom he refused to just
pinpoint on the basis of a photograph shown to him by the police officers,
insisting that he would like to see said suspect in person. More
importantly, Alejo during the trial had positively identified appellant Joel
de Jesus independently of the previous identification made at the police

Furthermore, even assuming that Alejos out-of-court identification

was tainted with irregularity, his subsequent identification in court cured
any flaw that may have attended it. It was held that the inadmissibility of
a police line-up identification should not necessarily foreclose the
admissibility of an independent in-court identification.

G.R. No. 163271, January 15, 2010



Julian Sambaan was the registered owner of a property covered by

Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-14202 issued on March 8, 1972.
The respondents herein and the petitioner Myrna Bernales are the children of
Julian and Guillerma. Myrna, who is the eldest of the siblings, is the present
owner and possessor of the property in question.Sometime in 1975, Julian
was ambushed and was hospitalized due to a gunshot wound. Julian
allegedly requested the respondents to redeem the subject property which
was mortgaged to Myrna and her husband Patricio Bernales. Thus, in 1982,
respondent AbsalonSambaan, one of Julians children, offered to redeem the
property but the petitioners refused because they were allegedly using the
property as tethering place for their cattle.

In January 1991, respondents received information that the property

covered by TCT No. T-14202 was already transferred to petitioners name.
Whereupon, they secured a copy of theDeed of Absolute Sale dated
December 7, 1970 which bore the signatures of their parents and had it
examined by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The result of the
examination revealed that the signatures of their parents, Julian and
Guillerma, were forged.

The trial court rendered a decision cancelling declaring Transfer

Certificate of Title No. T-14204 NULL AND VOID in view of the
falsification of the signatures of Julian and his wife Guillerma in the Deed of
Absolute Sale. This decision was affirmed by the trial court.


Whether the Deed of Absolute Sale was authentic.


Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals correctly gave probative
value to the testimony of the NBI Senior Document Examiner Caroline
MoldezPitoy, who categorically testified that the signatures of Julian and
Guillerma in the Deed of Absolute Sale were forged.

Moreover, the findings of the NBI document examiner were

corroborated by the trial courts own observation, as affirmed by the CA, that
even a cursory examination of Guillermas questioned signature from her
specimen signatures in the enlarged photographs would show that it needs
no expert witness to notice the wide difference in stroke, as well as the
writing style in capital G. What is more, Emma S. Felicilda, the daughter of
then deceased Guillerma, likewise testified that in fact their mother was the
one who filed the complaint in this instant case because according to her, she
did not sign the said document.

It is of no moment that the examination of the Deed of Absolute Sale

was commissioned by the respondents. In the end, it is the court which has
the discretion and authority on whether to give probative value to the results
of the examination. As held in Sali v. Abubakar, the fact that the NBI
conducted the examination of certain contested documents upon the request
of a private litigant does not necessarily nullify the examination thus made.
ESTATE OF ROGELIO G. ONG, petitioner, vs.Minor JOANNE
RODJIN DIAZ, Represented by Her Mother and Guardian, Jinky C.
Diaz, respondent.

G.R. No. 171713, December 17, 2007



A Complaint for compulsory recognition with prayer for support

pending litigation was filed by minor Joanne Rodjin Diaz (Joanne),
represented by her mother and guardian, Jinky C. Diaz (Jinky), against
Rogelio G. Ong with the RTC. Jinky and Rogelio had cohabited with each
while the former was still married to a Japanese national. From this live-in
relationship, minor Joanne Rodjin Diaz was conceived and was born.
Sometime after Joanne was born, Rogelio abandoned her and Jinky, and
stopped supporting them, alleging that he is not the father of the child.

The RTC ordered the defendant to recognize plaintiff as his

illegitimate child and provide her with support. Rogelio appealed to the
Court of Appeals.During the pendency of the case with the Court of Appeals
Rogelio died. The CA remanded the case to the RTC for the issuance of an
order directing the parties to make arrangements for DNA analysis for the
purpose of determining the paternity of plaintiff minor Joanne Rodjin Diaz,
upon consultation and in coordination with laboratories and experts on the
field of DNA analysis.


Whether the CA erred when it remanded the case to the RTC for DNA
analysis despite the fact that it is no longer feasible due to the death of
Rogelio Ong.


There are four significant procedural aspects of a traditional paternity

action which parties have to face: a prima facie case, affirmative defenses,
presumption of legitimacy, and physical resemblance between the putative
father and child. A child born to a husband and wife during a valid marriage
is presumed legitimate.As a guaranty in favor of the child and to protect his
status of legitimacy, Article 167 of the Family Code.

Amidst the protestation of petitioner against the DNA analysis, the

resolution thereof may provide the definitive key to the resolution of the
issue of support for minor Joanne. The alleged impossibility of complying
with the order of remand for purposes of DNA testing is more ostensible
than real. Petitioners argument is without basis especially as the New Rules
on DNA Evidence allows the conduct of DNA testing, either motuproprio or
upon application of any person who has a legal interest in the matter in
litigation. The death of the petitioner does not ipso facto negate the
application of DNA testing for as long as there exist appropriate biological
samples of his DNA.The term "biological sample" under the New Rules on
DNA testing means any organic material originating from a persons body,
even if found in inanimate objects, that is susceptible to DNA testing. This
includes blood, saliva, and other body fluids, tissues, hairs and bones.Thus,
even if Rogelio already died, any of the biological samples as enumerated
above as may be available, may be used for DNA testing. In this case,
petitioner has not shown the impossibility of obtaining an appropriate
biological sample that can be utilized for the conduct of DNA testing.

G.R. No. 186493, November 25, 2009



Alain James Dirige (Dirige), a taxi driver, saw the shooting of a

woman who was about to board his taxi. After the shooting, he left the crime
scene out of fear. Another eyewitness to the crime, a certain Rhea David,
who was in a store located only 3 meters away from the crime scene, gave
her description of the gunman, and a cartographic sketch was made based on
her description. The police officers showed David pictures. She pointed out
the picture of the appellant as that of the gunman. When Dirige finally went
to the police station to give his account of the shooting incident, the police
officers showed him mug shots and a video footage. From these mug shots
and video footage, Dirige identified the gunman, who was named by the
police officers as herein appellant.


Whether the out- of court identification of the eyewitnesses

conducted through sketching and photo line up was reliable.


Applying the totality-of-circumstances test, the Supreme Court found

the eyewitnesses out-of-court identification to be reliable. First, Dirige and
David were very near the place where the deceased was shot; thus, they had
a good view of the gunman. Second, no competing event took place to draw
their attention from the incident. Nothing in the records shows the presence
of any distraction that could have disrupted the witnesses attention at the
time of the shooting incident, or that could have prevented them from having
a clear view of the face of the gunman. Third, David immediately gave the
description of the gunman, while Dirige gave his description four days after
the shooting incident, giving sufficient explanation why it took him four
days to go to the police station. Finally, there was no evidence that the police
had supplied or even suggested to Dirige and David that appellant was the
suspected gunman. Further, it was held that there is no flaw that would
invalidate the eyewitnesses identification. There was no doubt as to the
positive identification made by these two prosecution witnesses, who had the
opportunity to vividly see the physical features of appellant.

Even assuming arguendo that appellants out-of-court identification

was irregular as appellant claims, this identification did not foreclose the
admissibility of the independent eyewitnesses in-court identification. It
must be stressed that in convicting appellant of the crime charged, the courts
a quo did not rely solely on the out-of-court identification. Dirigesand
Davids testimony clearly show that they positively identified appellant
independently of the previous identification they made at the police station.
Their testimonies, including their identification of appellant, were positive,
straightforward, and categorical.
AZARCON, appellant.

G.R. No. 141187, April 28, 2003



Appellant Ronnie Mactal y Azarcon was found guilty by the RTC

with the killing his wife, Evelyn Joaquin Mactal.

Upon investigation of the appellants house, the investigators found

bloodstains on a yellow sando, electric fan, wooden chair and the cement
floor. There were also bloodstains on items found outside the house, e.g., a
wastebasket, newspaper and cigarette carton. Emetria San Pedro vda.de
Joaquin, Evelyns mother, who arrived at her daughters house a few
minutes before the police, also noticed bloodstains on the furniture and
electric fan. When the bloodstains were sent to the national police crime
laboratory in Camp Crame for analysis, they tested positive as human blood.
The blood found on a yellowsando was of blood type B.

The medico-legal officer who conducted the tests determined that the
bloodstains found in appellants house were human blood. He testified that
the bloodstains were only two days old when she received the specimen four
days after the death of Evelyn. The prosecution had likewise failed to show
that Evelyn had blood type B meant that the bloodstains found were not the


1. Whether the testimony of the medico-legal officer regarding the age

of the bloodstains is fatal to the prosecutions case.

2. Whether the prosecutions failure to show that the deceaseds blood

type B is fatal to the case.


The Supreme Court found the accused guilty of parricide. It held that
the testimony of the medico legal officer as to the age of the bloodstains and
the failure of the prosecution to show that Evelyns blood type was B were
not fatal to the prosecutions case since the guilt of appellant was
sufficiently established by circumstantial evidence.
GARCIA y DELA CRUZ, Accused-Appellants.

G.R. No. 170472, July 3, 2009



The appellants were charged with the special complex crime of

robbery with homicide. They boarded a jeepney and declared hold- up
therein. One of them fired at one of the passengers, Harold Herrera, when
the latter refused to give his wrist watch. Herrera died in the hospital 11 days
after the incident due to the gunshot wound.

The victim was with his girlfriend Nancy G. Bonifacio when the
robbery happened and she identified the assailants. Nancy testified that both
she and Harold had identified the assailants. Aside from the in-court
identification she was also shown photographs and made a previous out-of-
court photographic identification in the hospital.Nancy significantly testified
that other pictures, aside from the pictures of the assailants, were shown to
her and to Harold at the hospital. From these pictures, they were able to
identify the perpetrators of the crime.

Another witness, Ryan Del Rosario, had also identified the accused as
the perpetrators. Ryan admitted executing a sworn statement before the
police five days after the robbery. He admitted having been told by the
police that the persons detained were the suspects in the robbery before he
identified them.


Whether the out- of- court identification made by the witnesses is

admissible in evidence.


Out-of-court identification is conducted by the police in various ways.

It is done thru show-ups where the suspect alone is brought face to face with
the witness for identification. It is done thru mug shots where photographs
are shown to the witness to identify the suspect. It is also done thru line-ups
where a witness identifies the suspect from a group of persons lined up for
the purpose x xx In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court
identification of suspects, courts have adopted the totality of circumstances
test where they consider the following factors, viz: (1) the witness
opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness
degree of attention at that time; (3) the accuracy of any prior description
given by the witness; (4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness
at the identification; (5) the length of time between the crime and the
identification; and, (6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure.

The totality test has been formulated precisely to assure fairness as

well as compliance with constitutional due process requirements in out-of-
court identification.

In People v. Pineda, the Supreme Court laid down the proper

procedure on photographic identification: first, a series of photographs must
be shown and not merely that of the suspect; and second, when a witness is
shown a group of pictures, their arrangement and display should in no way
suggest which one of the pictures pertains to the suspect.

In the present case, Nancy significantly testified that other pictures,

aside from the pictures of the appellants, were shown to her and to Harold at
the hospital. From these pictures, they were able to identify the perpetrators
of the crime. Furthermore, the records are bereft of any evidence showing
that Nancys photographic identification was attended by an impermissible
suggestion that singled out the appellants as the robbers.

Ryans identification of the appellants at the police station is not as

reliable since he admitted having been told by the police that the persons
detained were the suspects in the robbery before he identified them.
Nevertheless, this irregular identification does not need to affect the
admissibility of Nancy and Ryans independent in-court identification

G.R. No. 181041, February 23, 2011



On the evening of September 5, 2004, Joanna Pasaoa, a Grade 2

student, went to the appellants house to pickup AAA. When she was about
four (4) meters away from the appellants house, she saw the appellant
outside his house repeatedly stabbing AAA. Sometime later, BBB, AAAs
father, together with his brother-in-law, CCC, saw the appellant pouring
liquid into a fire when they passed by the appellants place while looking for
AAA. They approached the appellant, but the latter fled towards his
house.BBB and CCC inspected what the appellant was burning, and saw
partially burnt grasses and clothes. Thereafter, they saw AAAs lifeless body
covered with grass, one (1) meter away from the fire. AAAs body was half-
naked and partially burnt; it also bore multiple stab wounds.

Dr. Jesus Arturo De Vera, the Municipal Health Officer of Calasiao,

Pangasinan, testified that AAA had hymenal lacerations at 4, 7 and 10
oclock positions, and anal lacerations at 7 and 10 oclock positions. Dr. De
Vera stated that AAAs anal and hymenal lacerations could have been
caused by a hard object like an erect penis.NerigoDaciego, the Medico-
Legal Officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory,
saw positive signs of anal and vaginal penetrations on AAA and testified
that AAA had been raped when she was still alive due to the presence of
amucosal erosion on her anal and vaginal tissues. In addition the following
physical evidences were found at appellants house: a kitchen knife with
bloodstains; a wet towel stained with blood; bloodstains at the door of his
house; and a broomstick, T-shirt, pillow case and blanket, all with
bloodstains. The PNP Crime Laboratory found that these bloodstains
contained "female genes."

Appellant was charged before the RTC with the special complex
crime of rape with homicide. The RTC found the appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime charged, and imposed the death penalty. On
appeal, the CA affirmed the conviction of the accused.


Whether the circumstantial evidence is sufficient to convict the


Circumstantial evidence consists of proof of collateral facts and

circumstances from which the main fact in issue may be inferred based on
reason and common experience. Under Section 4, Rule 133 of the Revised
Rules of Court, circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if the
following requisites concur: (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the
facts from which the inferences are derived have been established; and (c)
the combination of all the circumstances unavoidably leads to a finding of
guilt beyond reasonable doubt. These circumstances must be consistent with
one another, and the only rational hypothesis that can be drawn therefrom
must be the guilt of the accused.

The circumstances of this case, taken together, lead to no other

conclusion than that the appellant, to the exclusion of others, had raped

The prosecution likewise established that the appellant had killed

AAA. Joanna positively identified the appellant as the person who
repeatedly stabbed AAA. Joannas testimony was also corroborated by Dr.
De Vera and Daciego who both stated that the victim suffered, among
others, 29 stab wounds.

In addition, the physical evidences found at the appellants house lead

to no conclusion other than the appellants guilt.
JOLONGON, Appellant.

G.R. No. 184546, February 22, 2010



During a buy bust operation appellant was caught have in his

possession, custody and control one (1) sachet of methamphetamine
hydrochloride, a dangerous drug commonly known as shabu, weighing more
or less 0.01 gram.

The Certificate of Inventory prepared by the police merely stated that

a sachet of a substance weighing 0.01 gram was seized from the appellant.
PO2 Labasano made no mention that he placed some markings on the sachet
for purposes of future identification. However, in the Request for Laboratory
Examination/Urine Test prepared by the Provincial Chief of Police, the item
being subjected for laboratory examination was already referred to as
Exhibit A. Next, in the Memorandum of the Regional Chief of PNP, the item
that was referred to the Forensic Chemist already had other markings.
Furthermore, the police who prepared the Certificate of inventory did not
know who received the substance recovered when it was delivered to the
crime laboratory and there was also no mention of what had happened to the
substance after its delivery.


Whether there was unbroken chain of custody of the confiscated



The prosecution failed to establish the unbroken chain of custody of

the confiscated substance. The standard operating procedure on the seizure
and custody of the drug as mandated in Section 21, Article II of RA 9165
and its Implementing Rules and Regulations was not complied with. The
failure to establish the evidences chain of custody is fatal to the
prosecutions case. There can be no crime of illegal possession of a
prohibited drug when nagging doubts persist on whether the item
confiscated was the same specimen examined and established to be the
prohibited drug. Jurisprudence abounds with cases where deviation from the
standard procedure in an anti-narcotics operation produces doubts as to the
identity and origin of the drug which inevitably results to the acquittal of the
accused. Thus on the ground of reasonable doubt the appellant was

G.R. No. 172607, April 16, 2009



The accused RufinoUmanitowas charged with the rape of AAA. The

RTC found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt. On appeal the Court
of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Umanito appealed the
decision of the appellate court to the Supreme Court.

The alleged 1989 rape of the private complainant, AAA, had resulted
in her pregnancy and the birth of a child, a girl hereinafter identified as
"BBB."In view of that fact, as well as the defense of alibi raised by Umanito,
the Court deemed uncovering of whether or not Umanito is the father of
BBB greatly determinative of the resolution of the appeal. Thus, the SC
directed the appellant, AAA and her child to submit themselves to
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing.


Whether the result of the DNA testing is determinative of the

resolution of the case.


With the advance in genetics and the availability of new technology, it

can now be determined with reasonable certainty whether appellant is the
father of AAA's child. If he is not, his acquittal may be ordained. If it can be
conclusively determined that the accused did not sire the alleged victim's
child, this may cast the shadow of reasonable doubt and allow his acquittal
on this basis. If he is found not to be the father, the finding will at least
weigh heavily in the ultimate decision in this case.

Based on the result of the DNA analysis conducted by the National

Bureau of Investigation, Forensic Division, RUFINO UMANITO y
MILLARES is the biological father of BBB. Umanitos defense of alibi,
together with his specific assertion that while he had courted AAA they were
not sweethearts, lead to a general theory on his part that he did not engage in
sexual relations with the complainant. The DNA testing has evinced a
contrary conclusion, and that as testified to by AAA, Umanito had fathered
the child she gave birth to on 5 April 1990, nine months after the day she
said she was raped by Umanito.
FILOMENA BRAVO, Respondents.

G.R. No. 171497, April 4, 2011



Respondents and the Spouses Tamani, Demetrio Tamani and

JosefaCaddauan, are co-owners of an undivided parcel of land with an area
of 776 sq. m. under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 8582. On August
17, 1959, the Spouses Tamani allegedly sold the disputed property to
Milagros Cruz (Cruz) as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale for a
consideration of Php 2,500.00. Petitioners herein are the children of Spouses
Tamani they contended that the signature of their parents were forged and
thus assail the validity of the August 17, 1959 Deed of Absolute sale
between Cruz and their parents.

During trial, at the instance of petitioners, the signature of Demetrio

Tamani appearing on the deed of sale and his standard signatures were
submitted for examination and comparison to the Questioned Documents
Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Bienvenido C.
Albacea, a document examiner of the NBI, filed a Report (NBI report)
finding that the questioned and standard signatures DEMETRIO TAMANI
are WRITTEN by one and the same person. Dissatisfied with the NBI
report, petitioners asked for another examination of the signatures, this time
submitting the same to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime
Laboratory Service. MelySorra, a document examiner of the PNP, filed a
Report (PNP report) finding that the questioned signature of DEMETRIO
TAMANI appearing on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated August 17, 1959
and the standard signatures of Demetrio Tamani marked S-1 to S-11 and S-

The RTC rendered a Decision ruling declaring the Deed of Sale as

null and void and without legal force and effect. The RTC gave more weight
to the PNP report and testimony of Sorra because of her educational,
professional and work background.The CA issued a Decision ruling in
respondents favor. The CA, after examining the questioned and standard
signatures of Tamani opined that the similarities of strokes are more
prominent and pronounced than the dissimilarities and the apparent
dissimilarities are overshadowed by the striking similarities in the
questioned and the standard signatures.

Whether the purported signatures are authentic.


The Supreme Court granted the petition.

After painstakingly reviewing the testimonies of the expert witnesses

and the documentary evidence at hand, the Supreme Court is more inclined
to believe that the signature of Tamani appearing on the August 17, 1959
Deed of Sale was forged as can be gleaned from the testimony of Sorra, the
document examiner from the PNP Crime Laboratory. Sorra testified that the
questioned signature was executed in a slow and drawn manner, while the
standard signatures were executed in a fast manner. Moreover, the line
quality of the questioned signature, particularly the letters o, m and n
exhibited hesitation and patchings, while the standard signatures exhibited
equal distribution of ink line and had good line quality. In addition, the
lateral spacing of the questioned signature was crumpled, while the lateral
spacing of the standard signature is normal.Sorra was steadfast that the
similarities between the questioned signature and the standard signatures is
attributable to the fact that the case involved a simulated forgery or a copied
forgery, such that there will be similarities, but the similarities will be

The value of the opinion of a handwriting expert depends not upon his
mere statements of whether a writing is genuine or false, but upon the
assistance he may afford in pointing out distinguishing marks, characteristics
and discrepancies in and between genuine and false specimens of writing
which would ordinarily escape notice or detection from an unpracticed
observer. While admittedly the Court was unable to fully comprehend all the
differences noted by Sorra given that her testimony was fairly technical in
nature and description, it would, however, not be amiss to state that it Court
has observed a good number of the differences noted by her.
Oklahoma Supreme Court
Case Number: 107999
Decided: 12/20/2011

WATT, Justice:


Plaintiff/Appellant Sheila Yvonne Berman sought assistance from the

Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), to determine paternity
and to collect child support. She alleged Herbert White, Jr. was the father of
her child. DHS brought an administrative action to determine paternity and
arranged for Defendant/Appellee Laboratory Corporation of America d/b/a
Lab Corp, Inc. (LabCorp) to conduct the DNA test. LabCorp reported White
was not the father of Berman's child. The test was performed a second time
with similar results. Berman submitted White's DNA, to a different lab for
DNA testing. This time the results were different, showing the DNA sample
tested was that of the father of Berman's child. On September 20, 2006,
Berman filed a paternity action in the District Court of Grady County against
White. He was ordered to submit to another paternity test. The test results
dated August 30, 2007 was the same and White was judicially determined to
be the father of Berman's child on June 4, 2008.

While the Grady County case was still pending, Berman filed this
lawsuit on April 9, 2008, in the District Court of Oklahoma County, seeking
money damages from LabCorp for the negligent testing of White's DNA
sample in the DHS administrative proceeding. Berman alleged LabCorp had
the duty of care of a "reasonably prudent professional in the paternity testing
field" and that its actions constitute a breach of that duty.


Whether LabCorp owe Berman, as the parent seeking to prove the paternity
of her child, a duty of care to conduct accurate DNA testing?


The importance of reliable and accurate DNA test results cannot be

overstated. This type of forensic evidence is becoming part of our
jurisprudence, and this trend is not likely to end. Much stands in the balance
of the lives of those relying on such test results to protect their legal rights in
a court of law. Inaccurate results could deal a devastating blow to those who
otherwise have no ability to prove their cases on their own. Without recourse
against a negligent defendant, a plaintiff has no remedy. Berman stands in
that position in her relationship with LabCorp. Inaccurate results proved
fatal to her case in her DHS proceeding. She was forced to pursue further
legal action at her own expense. Her risk was foreseeable, and LabCorp
owed her a duty to prevent that risk of harm. LabCorp owed a duty to
Berman to perform accurate DNA testing for purposes of determining the
paternity of her child.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Decided on May 6, 2014



After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of aggravated rape,

unarmed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, and assault and battery by means
of a dangerous weapon. During trial, the State presented evidence indicating
that Defendants DNA profile matched that of sperm found on the victims
underwear worn on the day of the offense. For the next several years,
Defendant sought, unsuccessfully, to have the sperm sample analyzed with
newer and more sophisticated techniques for DNA testing. After the
Legislature enacted Mass. Gen. Lawsch. 278A, Defendant filed a motion
and renewed motion pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278A, 3 seeking more
sophisticated DNA testing. The superior court denied the motions on the
grounds that DNA testing already had been conducted and the evidence
against Defendant was overwhelming.


Whether G.L. c. 278A permits a moving party access to a more

advanced form of a particular scientific test, such as DNA testing, where an
older version of such a test previously has been conducted


The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Defendants

motions were properly denied where the motions did not provide
information demonstrating that the requested analysis had not been
developed at the time of Defendants conviction.

General Laws c. 278A, 3 (b ) (5), requires that a moving party

provide "information demonstrating that the evidence or biological material
has not been subjected to the requested analysis" for one of five enumerated
reasons. In the present case, although the motion includes sufficient
threshold information that the evidence has not been subjected to the
requested analysis, it does not provide information demonstrating that the
requested analysis had not been developed at the time of Donald's
Decided on January 31, 2012
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court



A jury convicted the defendant of having a firearm without a license

in his control in a motor. The weapon in question and ammunition were
recovered by State troopers during a justifiable motor vehicle stop in
Randolph of an automobile driven by the defendant and registered to his
mother. At trial, Trooper Michael Guerriero, who found the weapon, a .357
revolver, testified that he touched the weapon to confirm that it was
"authentic," then placed it back where he had found it, and later
photographed it before moving it again into an evidence bag. At the State
police barracks in Milton, Trooper Guerriero's partner, Trooper Robert
Lima, made the weapon "safe" by removing its six rounds of ammunition.
The ballistics evidence was bagged and boxed, and identifying numbers
were assigned. Trooper Guerriero transported the evidence for analysis.
Subsequently, the revolver and five rounds of the ammunition were returned.
Concerning the discrepancy in the amount of ammunition returned, the judge
sustained the defendant's objection to Trooper Lima's testimony concerning
one round of ammunition being used for a test-fire on the ground that it had
not been demonstrated that Trooper Lima had personal knowledge of what
tests, if any, had been done. Trooper Lima did testify, however, that one
spent projectile returned from analysis was a "test one," and that it appeared
that the ballistics section "fired a test round." Although Trooper Lima also
testified that the revolver had been test-fired and that there were no
malfunctions regarding its operation, that testimony was based on his
reading of the ballistics certificate of examination and test-fire from the
"Firearms Identification Section" of the State police.


Whether there exist sufficient evidence to convict the defendant.


The Commonwealth was required to prove as an essential element of

its case that the weapon recovered was a working or operable firearm; that
is, that the gun was capable of discharging a shot or bullet. Trooper
Guerriero's testimony that the firearm was "authentic," while evidence that
the firearm was indeed a firearm, did not bear on the element of whether the
weapon was operable. Trooper Lima's actions of making the revolver safe
also does not speak to whether the weapon could actually fire. The fact that
the weapon was loaded when found, absent the presence of a spent casing in
its chamber, also has been found to not establish harmlessness beyond a
reasonable doubt.

Trooper Lima's testimony as to his general understanding of the

process followed by the ballistics department did not speak to whether the
revolver recovered in this case was capable of discharging a shot or bullet.
In fact, it was made quite clear in the record that Trooper Lima had no
personal knowledge of the process that occurred in this case, and during his
cross-examination he specifically stated, "I'm not a firearms expert...."
Although Trooper Lima testified that out of the six live rounds sent for
analysis, five were returned as well as a spent casing marked "test," and that
from that evidence it appeared that ballistics had fired a test round, this
testimony was speculation, as not based on personal knowledge.

The judgment of conviction on the indictment charging the defendant

with having a firearm without a license in his control in a motor vehicleis
Decided on Sept. 27, 2013
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court



After a jury trial the defendant was guilty of unlawful possession of a

firearmand unlawful possession of a Class B controlled substance, cocaine.
As proof that the weapon the defendant possessed was a firearm and the
substances found in his clothing were cocaine, the Commonwealth offered in
evidence a ballistics certificate and two certificates of drug analysis. The
certificates were admitted without testimony from the analysts who had
prepared them, and without objection by the defendant. The defendant
subsequently appealed, arguing that he was denied his right to a fair trial
under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution because the certificates were admitted without a showing of the
unavailability of the analysts or a prior opportunity to cross-examine them.
The Appeals Court affirmed the firearms conviction but reversed the drug


Whether the certifiates of drug analysis can be admitted as evidence

without testimony from the analysts who had prepared them, and without
objection by the defendant.


The Court affirmed the judgment of the Appeals Court.

Admission in evidence of the ballistics and drug certificates without

testimony of the analysts was error. Although the defendant did not object to
the production of the certificates at trial, such an objection would have been
futile because of our decision in Commonwealth v. Verde, 444 Mass. 279,
280, 283-284 (2005) which held that drug certificates may be properly
introduced as business records. The United States Supreme Court's ruling in
Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305, 310-311 (2009) holding
that certificates of analysis are testimonial statements whose admission in
evidence compels protection of confrontation clause, which abrogated
Commonwealth v. Verde, supra, was issued after the defendant's trial.
Michael Dale Filkowski, Appellant v. Director, North Dakota
Department of Transportation, Appellee
No. 20140290 (2015 ND 104)

Crothers, Justice.


Defendant Michael Filkowski's was stopped by McKenzie County Deputy

Sheriff after the latter observed the vehicle weave, leave the roadway on a
curve and cross over the center line and into the lane for oncoming
traffic.Defendant failed the field sobriety tests, and later agreed to take an
onsite screening test. Defendant would ultimately be arrested for driving
under the influence of alcohol and was informed of the implied consent
advisory. He agreed to take a chemical blood test. A blood sample was
collected and submitted to the state crime laboratory. The test results
showed an alcohol concentration of 0.166 g/100ml. Defendant requested an
administrative hearing, arguing that among other things that evidence did not
establish the arresting officer followed the approved method for collecting
and submitting the blood sample for testing because the bottom portion of
Form 104, the specimen submitter's checklist, was not sent to the director or
presented as evidence at the hearing. He also claimed the Department of
Transportation failed to show the approved method for conducting blood
analysis was used and no evidence showed who performed the blood-alcohol
analysis. The hearing officer admitted the analytical report and foundational
documents and suspended defendant's license for 91 days. Defendant
appealed and the district court affirmed the hearing officer's decision.


Whether the blood test was administered fairly.


It was held that the blood test was administered in accordance with the
proper procedure.

Form 104 has three sections that correspond to the conduct of the
three people who normally participate in administering the blood test. The
top half of the form includes the name of the person whose blood is drawn,
and a list of directions for both the specimen collector and the recipient of
the sample at the laboratory. The bottom half of the form contains a similar
list for the specimen submitter. The submitter, who will usually be a police
officer, is directed to retain this half of Form 104 in police records,
undoubtedly for later evidentiary use. These lists on the form enable the
actors to complete, sign, and certify that the director of the state crime
laboratory or the director's designee's directions have been followed. Fair
administration of a blood test can be established by proof that the directions
in Form 104 have been scrupulously followed. Testimony from the
participants, including the specimen submitter, can be used to show they
scrupulously complied with the methods approved by the state crime
laboratory director.

In this case, the Department did not offer the bottom half of Form 104
as evidence at the hearing. Schatz testified she removed the bottom half of
the form at the time of the blood draw and kept it in the case files. A blank
Form 104 was entered into evidence. Schatz testified she used an intact
testing kit she received from the hospital, she was present during the blood
draw, the nurse handed her the vial of blood and she put the seal on the tube,
starting at the top and putting it down the side. She testified she put the tube
in the blood tube protector with the absorbing sheet, placed the protector into
the plastic bag provided in the kit, placed the whole unit with the top portion
of Form 104 in the kit box and sealed the box with the kit seal. She testified
she mailed the kit to the state crime laboratory in Bismarck. Schatz's
testimony established she performed each of the required steps from the
specimen submitter's checklist and complied with the approved method.

The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment affirming

the hearing officer's decision to suspend Filkowski's driving privileges for 91
Garey v. State
No. S00A1297.
Supreme Court of Georgia.
November 13, 2000.

HINES, Justice.


Jonathan Garey, the accused, had a romantic relationshipwith Tonya

Jones, the victim. However, after a few months the relationship had gone
sour. Garey testified that on the night of September 7, 1998 the couple drove
to NiskeyLake,a secluded area. He told the court that Jones was upset about
their deteriorating relationship, and after he parked the car, she picked up the
pistol and told him that she was going to either "do [Garey] or do her";
Garey exited the car then reentered a short time later; Jones picked up the
pistol, held it in her left hand, pointed it at her head, and pulled the trigger.

After the shooting, Garey did not call the police or for an ambulance
even though he had a cell phone with him. Nor did he contact Jones's family.
Garey admitted that, instead, he pulled Jones out of the car and pushed her
down an embankment. He then fled the scene. Garey drove to a friend's
house and tried to wash the blood off the car; he lied to the friend about how
the blood got there. Garey threw the pistol in a nearby wooded area. He then
drove home and went to sleep.Jones died as the result of a contact gunshot
wound behind the left ear.

Garey contended that the evidence was insufficient to support the

verdict because his denial that he shot Jones was uncontradicted.


Whether the defendant was guilty of killing the victim.


The Court considered the testimony the doctor who performed the
autopsy on Jones testified that he had never had a case of suicide by any
person of either sex shooting himself or herself in the back of the head.
Investigator Haynie with the medical examiner's office indicated that the
blood found on Jones's left palm could not have been there if Jones had been
holding the pistol in her left hand when the fatal shot occurred.

The forensic evidence as well as Garey's admitted behavior in

callously disposing of Jones, and attempting to eliminate evidence of the
fatal shooting belie his claim that Jones took her own life. The evidence was
sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to find Garey guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of felony murder while in the commission of aggravated
The People of the State of New York against Terrance Sharp,
2012 NY Slip Op 22100
Decided on April 11, 2012
Supreme Court, Bronx County

Marcus, J.


In this case, after a witness identified the defendant's photograph

using the New York City Police Department's photo manager system, the
witness again identified the defendant in an investigative lineup conducted
in violation of the defendant's right to counsel. Acknowledging that the
lineup identification must be suppressed, the People now apply for an order
directing the defendant to appear in a second, post-indictment lineup.

Here, the defendant opposes the People's request for a second lineup.
He argues that permitting the complainant to view him again, after seeing his
photograph in the computer, and after viewing him in the lineup, would in
and of itself be impermissibly suggestive and would undermine the
reliability of any resulting identification.The defendant contends that
displaying him yet again to the complainant would not only be unduly
suggestive, but would also increase his confidence in his identification of the
defendant without increasing its reliability, further introduce "mug shot"
bias, and risk effecting the accuracy of the identification with post-event
information and by unconscious transference.


Whether an order to subject the defendant for a second lineup would

be unduly suggestive.


Generally, at a prearraignment lineup occurring before the filing of an

accusatory instrument, defendant's right to counsel has not attached.
However, even before the commencement of formal proceedings the right to
counsel at an investigatory lineup will attach when counsel has actually
entered the matter under investigation. If a lineup has been found to be
unduly suggestive, ordering a second lineup would be inappropriate, since it
would give the People a "second bite at the apple." In this case, if the
defendant is not placed in a second lineup, and if at the hearing that must
necessarily follow the suppression of the first lineup, the Court determines
that the witness has an independent source with which to make an in-court
identification, that identification will occur under circumstances far more
suggestive than those the witness is likely to encounter in a new lineup
conducted before trial.
In this case, if the prior lineup was not unduly suggestive, and if the
witness has a source independent of that lineup to make an identification in a
second one, there is no constitutional rule prohibiting or any policy
consideration militating against a second one, particularly given that it will
take place more than a year after the investigatory lineup. To the contrary,
under such circumstances, a pre-trial lineup will make an identification, if
one is made, more reliable, and, if one is not, will protect the defendant from
a suggestive, but constitutionally permissible, in-court identification.
Accordingly, a hearing is ordered to determine whether the lineup was
unduly suggestive and whether the complainant has an independent source
with which to make an identification.
People v Carson
2013 NY Slip Op 52103(U)
Decided on December 12, 2013

LaBuda, J.


Defendant is charged with Rape in the First Degree and Sexual Abuse
in the First Degree. One of the arresting officers testified before the grand
jury that Defendant was administered a polygraph examination at the request
of the police as part of the investigation, and viewed a video of Defendant's
interrogation from which they were further informed that the police
administered a polygraph to Defendant. Defendant argues that introduction
of evidence that a polygraph was used during the investigation was in error
and unduly prejudiced the grand jury proceedings. The prosecution however
furthers that the mention of the polygraph was made only in the context of
providing the chronology for the period during which Defendant was being


Whether the mention of the fact that the defendant had undergone a
polygraph test is prejudicial to the defense.


Polygraph examinations and the results thereof are inadmissible at

trial and grand jury. When the record establishes that a prosecutor not only
initiates and intertwines the testimony regarding a polygraph and places
emphasis on the probable outcome of the test, a court may reasonably
conclude a defendant has been unduly prejudiced. Eliciting testimony
regarding a detective's training as a polygraphist is also unduly prejudicial,
as is testimony from a detective that in his opinion a defendant refused to
take a polygraph because he was lying.

If overall, however, the conduct of the Grand Jury proceeding is

patently fair and a detective's reference to a polygraph is isolated, a court
may refuse to dismiss an indictment. Dismissal of an indictment for alleged
improprieties during the grand jury proceeding is considered an
extraordinary remedy, which requires that the acts complained of were
deliberate and not isolated. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a court to
consider the totality of the presentation. When there is legally sufficient and
admissible evidence to sustain the founts of an indictment, an isolated
impropriety does not affect the integrity of the grand jury to warrant
In the case at bar, the Court noted that transcript unequivocally
indicates an isolated reference to a polygraph, unsolicited by the prosecutor.
The grand jury testimony and record before the Court indicates there was
legally sufficient and admissible evidence to sustain the counts in the
indictment. The proceeding, overall, was fair, and the Court will not dismiss
the within indictment due to an isolated impropriety in which a detective
testified that Defendant was taken for a polygraph during the course of an
investigation, especially considering his
The People of the State of New York v. John Doe, Defendant.
2012 NY Slip Op 22366
Decided on December 6, 2012
Supreme Court, Queens County, New York

Barry Kron, J.


It is alleged that defendant and an apprehended other entered the

location and the apprehended other handed the complainant a note which
indicated that defendant, who was allegedly standing by the door, would
start shooting people if the complainant did not hand over all the money in
the register. The note at issue was left at the scene of the crime.

The People have moved at trial to introduce the testimony of a

criminalist from the New York City Police Department. The witness
reviewed photographs of fingerprints and a report by a colleague, also a
criminalist in the same lab, who is unavailable to testify at trial and who did
the actual lifting of fingerprints from a said note. The prosecutor asserts that
no violation of the law is caused by the introduction of trial testimony from a
criminalist who did not actually lift fingerprints from a demand note found
at the scene of the robbery, but rather were lifted by a colleague working in
the same lab who is unavailable to testify at trial. In opposition, defendant
argues that his Sixth Amendment Right of Confrontation is violated by the
introduction of such testimony because he is unable to cross-examine the
individual who actually lifted the prints from the note.


Whether the introduction by the prosecution of an expert witness who

to testify relating to the fingerprints on the note left behind by the
defendantconsidering that he did not perform the physical act of lifting the
prints is a violation of the defendants Sixth Amendment Right of


The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides: "In

all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right ... to be
confronted with the witnesses against him." Only statements which are
testimonial implicate the Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses.

In Crawford v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 1354 (2004), the Supreme

Court held that out of court statements that are testimonial are barred under
the Confrontation Clause, unless witnesses are unavailable and defendants
had a prior opportunity to cross-examine the witness, regardless of whether
such statements are deemed reliable by the court. Notably, the
"Confrontation Clause . . . . applies to witnesses against the accused - - in
other words, those who bear testimony'.

The physical act of raising latent fingerprints is analogous to reports

seeking to test for the presence of DNA, and breath test machine
maintenance and calibration records, and simulator solution certifications.
The Court therefore finds no Confrontation Rights implicated here.

The criminalist who lifted the print and who was unavailable, or
any other criminalist who could have lifted the print, would have no way of
knowing that it would later implicate defendant as having his prints on the
note. Notably, even though the defendant was arrested, the arrest was done
before any fingerprint linked him to the note because a comparison was not
done until a day after the arrest. Thus, the person who lifted the print from
the note did not have defendant in mind as a suspect and was merely
attempting to lift a print, if at all possible, from a note recovered at the scene
of the crime. The criminalist did not know who the print that was lifted
belonged to. The person merely lifted a print that she thought was usable to
try and match someone as having touched the note. The fact that defendant
in this case was in custody and under suspicion is not the key factor for
Crawford analysis. The important factor is that the person lifting the
fingerprint is doing it in a vacuum unconnected to any specified individual,
and is simply taking a blind, mechanical step in generating the potential for
scientific evidence. The scientific evidence can ultimately turn out to be
exculpatory, inculpatory or neutral. Defendant here was arrested based on
identification evidence, totally unrelated to fingerprints analysis.
Additionally defendant has the opportunity to confront the expert who
testified as to the match.
Rick MORRIS, Appellant, v. STATE of Alaska, DEPARTMENT OF
No. S-12279, 186 P.3d 575 (2008)
Supreme Court of Alaska
Decided on July 3, 2008



Rick Morris appeals the revocation of his driver's license following

his arrest for driving under the influence. He failed the field sobriety test
conducted by the officer who arrested him. He was then submitted to a
preliminary breath test, which indicated that he had a breath alcohol content
of .092 percent which is beyond the legal limit.. Following a fifteen-minute
observation period, Morris submitted a breath test sample on a Datamaster
breath test instrument. The test reflected a result of .089 percent. Morris then
exercised his right to an independent test and was transported to the Central
Peninsula General Hospital for blood work. At 5:13 a.m., thirty-seven
minutes after the chemical breath test, blood was drawn by a laboratory
technician and placed into evidence storage at the Soldotna Police
Department. Morris's blood sample was tested on August 11, 2004, by
Providence Alaska Medical Center, and reflected a result of .0701 percent
blood alcohol content.

Morris argued that the results of his blood test, performed thirty-seven
minutes after his breath test, varied so greatly from the breath test result that
it fell "outside the generally acceptable range" of natural alcohol elimination
from the body and therefore failed to corroborate his breath test result. He
asserted that the blood test result proved that the chemical breath test, which
the department had relied upon to revoke his driver's license, was therefore
inaccurate and that his license could not be suspended.


Whether the variance between a presumptively accurate breath test

and a subsequent blood test that falls outside the average rates of alcohol
elimination from the body proves that the former is unreliable for the
purpose of revoking Morris's driver's license.


Alaska Statute 28.35.030(a)(2) provides that a person commits the

offense of driving while under the influence if the person operates a vehicle
"and if, as determined by a chemical test taken within four hours after the
alleged operating or driving, there is 0.08 percent or more by weight of
alcohol in the person's blood . . . or if there is 0.08 grams or more of alcohol
per 210 liters of the person's breath."

In this case, the hearing officer's decision was supported by the results
of the breath test, by unchallenged evidence that the breath test machine was
properly certified for use and was functioning properly, by evidence that the
machine's internal self-tests were performed both before and after Morris's
test, and by the fact that the blood test result supports the conclusion that
Morris exceeded the legal limit at the time of his breath test. In addition,
Morris's admission that he had been consuming alcohol, the evidence of his
poor driving, and Officer Stoneking's testimony as to his personal condition
and his performance of field sobriety tests all supported the hearing officer's
decision. Finally, AS 28.35.033(d) creates a presumption that where a
chemical breath test "was performed according to approved methods by a
person trained according to techniques, methods, and standards of training
approved by the Department of Public Safety," the test is valid. In these
circumstances, there was substantial evidence that supported the hearing
officer's decision of revoking the appellants license.

Morris first assumes that only one chemical test the state's breath test
showing .089 percent at 4:36 a.m., or Morris's blood test showing .070
percent at 5:13 a.m. can be right. But the tests are not necessarily
inconsistent. Both tests could have been accurate if Morris had in fact
eliminated alcohol at a high rate. While the average person eliminates
alcohol at a rate of .012 to .024 percent per hour, the hearing officer had
before her the department's "Breath Alcohol Supervisor Manual," which
noted that "higher rates of metabolism have been reported and are usually
associated with chronic consumption of large quantities." Indeed, even
Morris's clinical chemist was unwilling to say that it was impossible for both
tests to be accurate, only that he would have had to *580 have eliminated
alcohol at an "unexpectedly" high rate.

In sum, the evidence at Morris's hearing established that the chemical

breath test was presumptively valid, and Morris did not directly challenge
the testing machine or process in any way. His only evidence was not
necessarily inconsistent with the state's evidence. There was substantial
evidence to support the hearing officer's conclusion that Morris's chemical
breath test produced a result described under AS 28.35.030(a)(2): a breath
alcohol content at or above .080 percent.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,v.RAY
Decided on May 13, 2014


Posing as an immigration official, defendant gained entry to the

apartment shared by a twenty-two year old woman and her husband in
Paterson. According to the young woman, defendant sexually assaulted her
and stole her jewelry.In a separate indictment, defendant was charged with
several offenses, including attempted murder, stemming from his alleged
solicitation of someone to kill the victim while defendant was awaiting trial
on the first set of charges. The charges in the second indictment were joined
with the first indictment and tried together. No physical evidence linked
defendant to the crimes. He was apprehended based on cell phone records of
calls made to the victim and a sketch developed on the basis of her detailed
description.The victim's identification resulting from a photo array.

The defendant questioned the validity of the photo array as it was not
in accordance with theAttorney General Guidelines in conducting the photo


Whether the polices failure to follow the guidelines in conducting

photo array will invalidate the identification resulting thereto.


Although no physical evidence linked defendant to the crimes, other

evidence of defendant's guilt, notably the remarkable likeness of the police
sketch to defendant and the extensive cell phone evidence, was

Although the officer conducting the array allowed the victim to view
all six photos simultaneously instead of sequentially as specified in the
Guidelines, the court was satisfied "that it was a fair and excellent process."
He found the officer who conducted the array credible and that his failure to
have the victim view the photos one-at-a-time did not inject any
suggestiveness or improper influence into the process.

Moreover, the judge noted the impossibility of ignoring the uncanny

likeness of the police sketch to defendant, which the judge described as "for
all intents and purposes, a photograph of defendant Ray Jackson." A police
artist drew the sketch from the victim's description of her attacker well
before she identified his photograph. The court concluded that the
combination of the array and the sketch "obliterates any argument that this
identification process was in any way marred."
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. DANNY LAZO,
(A-14-10) (066199)
Decided February 1, 2012



In 2005, Angel Chalco left his home in Newark and headed toward
the subway station to catch a train to work. As he walked down the stairs,
the men grabbed Chalco, pulled him backward, and demanded money. The
men took Chalcos wallet and his cell phone. They then hit him on the head
and kicked his stomach, causing him to lose consciousness. After he
returned home, he called the police. Soon after, he met with a New Jersey
Transit Police Detective and described one of his assailants. That description
was broadcast to patrol units. At police headquarters, Chalco viewed about
thirty photographs but did not identify anyone as his assailant. A police
sketch artist worked with Chalco and prepared a sketch of the assailant
based on Chalcos description. The composite drawing was then
disseminated. Days later, the detective came across an arrest photo of
Defendant Danny Lazo taken after he had jumped a turnstile. The detective
thought Defendants photo closely resembled the composite sketch and
included a picture of Defendant in an array he compiled. To comply with
guidelines from the Attorney General, the detective used a two-year-old
photo of Defendant instead of the more recent arrest photo. The detective
showed Chalco the photo array, and Chalco identified the picture of
Defendant as his assailant. Defendant was arrested the following day.
Defendant vigorously objected to both the introduction of the arrest photo
and the testimony.

Defendant s trial began on November 28, 2006. Defense counsel did

not request a Wade hearing before trial to challenge the identification
procedure. The State called Detective Valido and the victim. During the
detective s testimony, the State introduced in evidence the composite sketch,
defendant s arrest photo, and the photo array. The detective explained how
he prepared the array. He noted that once he received the arrest photo, he
noticed how closely it resembled the sketch. Defendant vigorously objected
to both the introduction of the arrest photo and the testimony. The victim s
identification was the only evidence linking defendant to the crime. Defense
counsel offered an alibi defense, which was challenged and undermined by
the prosecution. In summation, the prosecutor argued how convenient the
defense witnesses testimony was and repeatedly labeled certain facts as

The jury acquitted defendant of first-degree robbery but found him

guilty of second-degree robbery, a lesser-included offense, and second-
degree conspiracy to commit robbery. Defendant appealed. In an
unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division affirmed his conviction. The
panel rejected defendant s argument that the trial judge should not have
admitted defendant s prior arrest photo or testimony from the detective
comparing the sketch and defendant. In addition, the panel rejected
defendant s claim that the prosecutor implied defense counsel had fabricated
an alibi. The matter was remanded for a technical correction to the judgment
of conviction.


Whether it was proper for a police officer to testify at trial about how
and why he assembled a photo array.


The Supreme Court granted defendant s petition for certification.

In this case, the arrest photo did not imply that defendant had a prior
criminal record. The photo was a neutral, frontal headshot of defendant with
no identifying markings, notations, or numbers. In addition, Detective
Valido did not explain how the photo came into his possession, refer to it as
an arrest photo, or mention defendant s prior arrest.
There was no legitimate need or reason for the detective to tell the
jury why he placed defendant s picture in the photographic array. The only
relevant evidence was the identification itself.When a police officer testifies
concerning an identification made by a witness, such as in this case, what
counts is whether the officer fairly arranged and displayed the photographic
array and whether the witness made a reliable identification. Why the officer
placed the defendant s photograph in the array is of no relevance to the
identification process and is highly prejudicial. For that reason, we
disapprove of a police officer testifying that he placed a defendant s picture
in a photographic array upon information received. Even such seemingly
neutral language, by inference, has the capacity to sweep in inadmissible
hearsay. It implies that the police officer has information suggestive of the
defendant s guilt from some unknown source.It was therefore error for the
detective in this case to tell the jury why he included defendant s photo in
the array.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. REGINALD
ROACH a/k/a REGINALD W. HOLMES, Defendant-Appellant.
A-129 September Term 2011 068874
Decided August 6, 2014

LaVecchia, J.


Defendant Reginald Roach was convicted by a jury of aggravated

sexual assault, burglary, and other offenses related to the home invasion and
rape of a sixty-four-year-old woman, herein referred to as HH.

Before the defendant, the police had identified as a suspect a person

who shall be referred to as E.A. Forensic scientist LinneaSchiffne received
H.H.s sexual assault kit and the buccal swabs taken from H.H. and E.A.
Schiffner was able to create a full DNA profile for the perpetrator from
samples taken from H.H., as well as profiles for H.H. and E.A. from their
respective buccal swabs. She concluded that DNA profile did not match that
of the perpetrator. After defendant was identified as a suspect, and, when
police officers stopped him, they found a pair of black gloves and a small
sharpened stick. Defendants buccal swab was sent to the State Lab for
analysis. Because Schiffner had relocated to Wisconsin for reasons the trial
court found unrelated to job performance, the H.H. case file and defendants
buccal swab were assigned to Jennifer Banaag, another forensic scientist in
the DNA Department. Banaag analyzed defendants buccal swab and
generated a full DNA profile for defendant. She then compared defendant s
DNA profile with the profiles generated from the specimens taken from
H.H. s inner thighs, and concluded that defendant was the source of the
DNA on H.H. s samples. As part of this process, Banaag reviewed
Schiffners report and all the underlying data, as well as all files relating to
the case. Banaag checked everything from the initials and dates on each page
to the data calls Schiffner had made in generating the profiles. Banaag issued
a signed report stating her conclusion that defendant was the source of the
DNA found in the samples taken from H.H., and containing an allele table
with the DNA profile she had generated for defendant and the DNA profiles
reported by Schiffner.

Williams and Banaag testified for the State, but Schiffner did not
testify. Defendant objected to any testimony by Banaag about Schiffner s
analysis, arguing that it was hearsay and violated his right to confront the
analyst who had performed the tests being used against him. The court
overruled defendant s objection. Banaag testified that she had made an
independent data analysis for the buccal swab that she received, went back
and reviewed Miss Schiffners case and made her own independent
conclusions. Banaag went on to state her conclusion that within a
reasonablescientific certainty. Reginald Roach is identified as the source of
the DNA profile obtained from the samples taken from H.H.


Whether defendant's confrontation rights were violated when the

DNA analyst who testified at trial, and who matched the DNA profile
developed from defendant's buccal swab to DNA evidence left by the
perpetrator at the scene of the offense, did not perform the testing procedures
that provided the basis for the DNA profile developed from the perpetrator's


Defendant s confrontation rights were not violated by the testimony of

the analyst who matched his DNA profile to the profile left at the scene by
the perpetrator. Defendant had the opportunity to confront the analyst who
personally reviewed and verified the correctness of the two DNA profiles
that resulted in a highly significant statistical match inculpating him as the
perpetrator. In the context of testing for the purpose of establishing DNA
profiles for use in an expert s comparison of DNA samples, a defendant s
federal and state confrontation rights are satisfied so long as the testifying
witness is qualified to perform, and did in fact perform, an independent
review of testing data and processes, rather than merely read from or vouch
for another analyst s report or conclusions.

The Court considers Banaags testimony and determines that Banaag

sufficiently explained how she used her scientific expertise and knowledge
to independently review and analyze the graphic raw data that was the
computer-generated product of Schiffner s testing. Although the Court finds
that Banaag s independent interpretation of the machine-generated data
converted raw data into unmistakably testimonial material subject to the
Confrontation Clause, it holds that confrontation requirements were satisfied
by defendant s ability to cross-examine Banaag.

Defendant s confrontation rights were not sacrificed because he had

the opportunity to confront Banaag on her conclusions and on the facts that
she independently reviewed, verified, and relied on in reaching those
conclusions. The Court emphasizes that this is not a case where the
testifying analyst merely read from another analyst s report. Rather, Banaag
carefully reviewed and analyzed all the underlying machine-generated data
and formed her own conclusions about the results to which she testified.
Accordingly, the Court holds that defendant s confrontation rights were
satisfied by his opportunity to confront Banaag on the DNA evidence used at
his trial.
The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Lance Stewartson,
Decided on April 28, 2015
Supreme Court, New York County


Defendant was charged with burglary in the first degree, robbery in

the second degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth
degree (five counts) and criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth
degree. The defendant assailed the denial of the trial court of his request for
a midtrial adjournment to obtain the testimony of a police sketch artist.
Through such request, Defendant sought to exploit the differences between
his actual appearance and a sketch that was believed to have been made as
the result of an interview with the victim. He claimed that, when the victim
unexpectedly testified that she did not recognize the sketch in evidence as
the final sketch that she had approved, the sketch artist's testimony became


Whether the failure to present the testimony of the sketch artist in

court is fatal to the case of the prosecution.


Although the trial court should have granted defendant's request for a
midtrial adjournment to obtain the testimony of a police sketch artist, any
error was plainly harmless. However, even assuming that the artist's
testimony would have been completely favorable to defendant, there is no
reasonable possibility that it would have affected the verdict. In addition to
the victim's identification, the overwhelming evidence included defendant's
confession, the recovery of the victim's identifiable property from defendant,
and various forms of persuasive circumstantial evidence. Moreover, any
prejudice from the absence of the sketch artist was minimized by the parties'
stipulation. Defendant did not preserve his claim that he was constitutionally
entitled to the adjournment.
The State, Respondent, v. Richard P. Anderson, Petitioner.
78 S.C. 243, 662 S.E.2d 461 (Ct. App. 2008).



Priscilla Ward went home one day to find her home burglarized.
During the investigation, Stephen Hardee, the police who investigated the
crime scene lifted two fingerprints from the broken window. At trial,
Hardee identified two lift cards on which he transferred the latent
fingerprints from the crime scene.

In an effort to identify the intruder's fingerprints, the State offered the

testimony of Sergeant Jeffrey Gause, an expert in the field of fingerprint
analysis. Gause testified he analyzed the latent fingerprints found at the
Wards' home by checking them through the Automated Fingerprint
Identification System (AFIS). Immediately after this statement, Anderson's
counsel objected to any evidence concerning Anderson's ten-print card.
Counsel argued the rolled ten-print card from the database was inadmissible
given it had not been properly authenticated. The trial court judge overruled
the defense objection and so the prosecution offered the testimony of
Lieutenant Joseph Means, who is in charge of the crime information center
at SLED and oversees the AFIS. In the end the trial court judge admitted the
master fingerprint card with Anderson's known fingerprints.

The jury convicted Richard P. Anderson of first-degree burglary.

Anderson appealed his conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeals. In
his appeal, Anderson argued the trial judge erred in admitting into evidence
an unauthenticated ten-print card as maintained in the "Automated
Fingerprint Identification System" (AFIS). The Court of Appeals affirmed
Anderson's conviction and sentence. Hence this petition for a writ of
certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals.


Whether the fingerprint card was inadmissible given the person who
actually took the fingerprints did not testify and, thus, the card was not


The analysis regarding the admissibility of the fingerprint card

involves a two-prong approach. The initial question is whether the
fingerprint card was testimonial in nature and, if so, fell within an exception
to the hearsay rule. If a hearsay exception is applicable, then the next
consideration in assessing admissibility is authentication.
Anderson never challenged the admissibility of the fingerprint card on
the ground that it constituted inadmissible hearsay. Thus, the Court confined
its analysis solely to a determination of the authenticity of the fingerprint
card. The Court of Appeals correctly held the State presented sufficient
evidence to authenticate the ten-print card. It is merely requiredthat the
evidence as to when and by whom the card was made and that the prints on
the card were in fact those of this defendant.

The State provided expert testimony which linked the latent

fingerprints with Anderson's known prints. Sergeant Gause, who was
qualified as an expert in the field of fingerprint analysis, testified regarding
the method and technology in which he analyzed the latent fingerprints with
the known prints. This testimony included a thorough explanation of how an
arrestee's fingerprints are taken, stored, and maintained. Using the
officially-maintained known fingerprints, Gause opined that the latent print
found at the Wards' home matched Anderson's known print in the AFIS
database. Thus, this expert testimony was sufficient to support a finding that
the matter in question was what the State claimed.