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G.R. No. 121828. June 27, 2003

On February 5, 1988 11:30 in the evening, Elisa Roldan was inside their store waiting for
husband to arrive. Joselito Capa and Julian Azul, Jr. were drinking beer. Although already drunk,
Edmar Aguilos and Odilon Lagliba joined them. Aguilos had a heated argument with Azul. Elisa
pacified Edmar and advised them to go home as she was already going to close her store. Aguilos
and Lagliba left then returned to block Capa and Azul. Aguilos took off his eyeglasses and
punched Azul in the face. Elisa shouted "Tama na, tama na!" but she was ignored as they
continue to rumble until they reach the end of the street. Lagliba positioned himself on top of a
pile of hollow blocks and watched the two swapped punches. As Capa tried to stop the fight,
Lagliba pulled out his knife with his right hand and stepped down from his perch. He placed his
left arm around Capa's neck, and stabbed him. Ronnie and Rene Gayot Pilola, who were across
the street, saw their gang-mate Lagliba stabbing the victim and decided to join the fray. Ronnie
took a knife from the kitchen of Teresita and the two rushed to the scene and stabbed Capa. As
Capa was stabbed 11 times (6 fatal stab wounds), he fell in the canal. Lagliba and Pilola fled
while Ronnie went after Azul who ran dear life. When Azul noticed that Ronnie was no longer
running after him, he looked back and saw Ronnie pick up a piece of hollow block and bashed
Capa's head. Then, Ronnie got a piece of broken bottle and struck Capa once more before fleeing
from the scene. Capa died on the spot. Elisa rushed to Capa's house and informed his wife and
brother of the incident.

Agripina Gloria, a female security guard, saw Ronnie repeatedly stabbed Capa and fled
towards the direction of the mental hospital. She did not see Lagliba.

On the other hand, Elisa's cross-examination had an inconsistency, she stated that it was
Aguilos who struck the victim (before it was Ronnie)

RTC: Pilola GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Murder punished under Art. 248 of the
RPC qualified by treachery and sentenced to reclusion perpetua. Pilola is hereby ordered to
indemnify the heirs of Capa in the amount of 50,000 as civil indemnity ex delictom and moral
damages of 50,000 and exemplary damages of 25,000

ISSUE: WON Pilola is guilty of murder

RULING: Yes. Pilola is GUILTY of murder.

The identity of the person who hit the victim with a hollow block is of de minimis
importance. The perceived inconsistency in Elisa's account of events is a minor and
collateral detail that does not affect the substance of her testimony, as it even served to
strengthen rather than destroy her credibility. No showing of any improper motive on the
part of a witness to testify falsely against the accused or to falsely implicate the latter in the
commission of the crime - the testimony is worthy of full faith and credence

There is conspiracy when two or more persons agree to commit a felony and decide to
commit it. Conspiracy as a mode of incurring criminal liability must be proved separately
from and with the same quantum of proof as the crime itself. Secrecy and concealment are
essential features of a successful conspiracy. Conspiracy may be implied if it is proved that
two or more persons aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful
object, each doing a part so that their combined acts, though apparently independent of
each other, were, in fact, connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal
association and a concurrence of sentiment. There may be conspiracy even if an offender
does not know the identities of the other offenders, and even though he is not aware of all
the details of the plan of operation or was not in on the scheme from the beginning. One
need only to knowingly contribute his efforts in furtherance of it. One who joins a criminal
conspiracy in effect adopts as his own the criminal designs of his co-conspirators. If
conspiracy is established, all the conspirators are liable as co-principals regardless of the
manner and extent of their participation since in contemplation of law, the act of one would
be the act of all. Each of the conspirators is the agent of all the others.

Even if two or more offenders do not conspire to commit homicide or murder, they may be
held criminally liable as principals by direct participation if they perform overt acts which
mediately or immediately cause or accelerate the death of the victim.

Art. 4. Criminal liability. Criminal liability shall be incurred:

By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be
different from that which he intended

Art 18. Accomplices. - Accomplices are the persons who, not being included in Article
17, cooperate in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts.

To hold a person liable as an accomplice, two elements must concur:

1. the community of criminal design - knowing the criminal design of the principal by
direct participation, he concurs with the latter in his purpose
2. the performance of previous or simultaneous acts that are not indispensable to the
commission of the crime

Accomplices do not decide whether the crime should be committed; they merely assent to the
plan of the principal by direct participation and cooperate on its accomplishment. However,
where one cooperates in the commission of the crime by performing overt acts which by
themselves are acts of execution, he is a principal by direct participation, and not merely an

There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing
means, methods or forms in the execution thereof, which tend directly and specially to insure
its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense, which the offended party might
make. The essence of treachery is the swift and unexpected attack on the unarmed victim
without the slightest provocation on his part - attack on the unarmed victim was sudden. The
aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength is absorbed by treachery.