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Incomplete Justification People v. Toring 191 SCRA 38 (Digest)

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  PEOPLE V. TORING   Crime:  Murder Topic:  Incomplete justification/Exemption Plaintiff-Appellee: People of the Philippines   Accused-Appellants: Luis Toring, Diosdado Berdon, Carmelo Berdin  Nature of Petition: Appeal: The appellants seek the reversal of the decision made by the lower court.  Previous Decisions: CIRCUIT CRIMINAL COURT IN CEBU CITY:  Luis Toring is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The court recognized the accused having the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender with it being offset by the aggravating circumstance of nighttime and was sentenced to the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua. Diosdado Berdon, having no mitigating nor aggravating circumstances, was sentenced to imprisonment of six years of Prision Correccional to twelve years and one day of Reclusion Temporal. Camilo Berdin, for having the mitigating circumstance of minority being 17 years old, was sentenced to six months and one day of Prision Correccional. The three also have to indemnify the heirs for damages, both compensatory and moral, amounting to PhP65,000. Facts: On the night of the murder, there was a benefit dance held in Naga, Babag II, Lapu-lapu City for the last canvassing of votes for the princesses who would reign at the sitio fiesta and one of the candidates was the daughter of Samuel Augusto. Around 10:45 P.M., his daughter was proclaimed the winner. After the proclamation, Augusto stepped out of the dancing area to answer the call of nature. At that moment, Luis Toring, Diosdado Berdon, and Carmelo Berdin were seen by barangay tanod Felix Berdin whispering in a dark area. Berdon handed a knife to Toring who approached Augusto from behind and stabbed him in the right side. Thereafter, the three assailants ran towards the dark and Felix was unable to catch them. Augusto was brought to the hospital where he died on arrival. According to the necropsy report, Augusto’s death was due to a massive hemorrhage secondary to the stab wound on the abdomen. The location of the murder weapon was pointed out by Carmelo Berdin to be at Luis Toring’s house.  The three were charged with conspiracy in killing Samuel Augusto in a treacherous manner. It was alleged that Berdon supplied the weapon which Toring used for stabbing Augusto while Berdin concealed the weapon. The morning after the incident, Toring was sleeping in the hut with his older brother, Arsenio when Edgar Augusto, the younger brother of Samuel, shot them and Arsenio was hit on the left leg. It was also mentioned that a year before the incident, Toring was shot by Edgar.  Contention of the State: Toring was the aggressor acting in retaliation or revenge by a running feud or a long-standing grudge between the groups of Toring and Augusto. Conspiracy, however, was ruled out among the three accused on the ground that there was no proof on what they were whispering about.  Contention of the Accused: All three assailants pleaded not guilty. Toring contended that he was acting in defense of his cousin. On the night of the benefit dance, Augusto was thrusting the butt of his shotgun on the chin of Joel Escobia, Toring’s cousin.  With this, Toring stabbed Augusto with no intention of killing the latter. Berdin admitted that he witnessed the stabbing and he ran away immediately after but he was with Toring when the latter hid the knife under a trunk in Toring’s house.  Berdon, however, did not attend the dance because of the trouble which erupted the night before and contended that he did not have anything to do with the stabbing. Supreme Court Decision: The l ower court’s decision was affirmed but with modifications. First, Luis Toring was sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of six years of Prision Correccional to twelve years of Prision Mayor. Diosdado Berdon shell suffer an indeterminate penalty of six years and one day of Prision Mayor to twelve years and one day of Reclusion Temporal. Carmelo Berdin is acquitted as an accessory to the murder. Toring and Berdon shall indemnify the heirs of Augusto of PhP30,000.  Reasons: First, it must still be proven that Augusto brought a firearm on the night of the benefit dance. Also, it cannot be said that Toring was impelled by the desire to avenge the immediate wrong inflicted on his cousin. Rather, we was motivated by revenge, resentment, or evil motive due to the feud between the Augusto and Toring brothers. Toring should also be credited with the privileged mitigating circumstance of incomplete defense of a relative and the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. Nighttime cannot be considered an aggravating circumstance since there was no proof that it was purposely sought to insure the commission of the crime or to prevent its discovery. On Berdon’s part, his participation by supplying the knife was proven beyond reasonable doubt. Lastly, the fact that Berdin knew where Toring hid the knife does not imply that the former concealed it to prevent its discovery. Berdin’s willingness to retrieve and surrender the weapon to the police is inconsistent with guilt. Other Legal Concepts Discussed:
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