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[ GR No. 7311, Aug 05, 1912 ]

US +


23 Phil. 1

[ G.R. No. 7311, August 05, 1912 ]




The death penalty having been imposed upon  both  defendants in the Court of First Instance, the record of  the proceedings has been brought here for review in accordance with the provisions of law in such cases.
  From the evidence of record it conclusively appears: That on the morning of the 21st day of June,  1911, Frederick Michaelis, a sergeant in  the United States Army stationed at Ludlow Barracks, Parang, Moro Province,  was on  the target range at about 10  o'clock in the morning, practicing with his revolver; that while he  was practicing,  the two defendants, both of whom are  Moros, were  watching him from a position a little to  one side of the target range; that after he stopped firing from his revolver,  presumably having  emptied it,  the two defendants got up from  the place where they  were sitting, and  walked  toward  the place where Sergeant  Michaelis was standing; that when they got close to him they suddenly leaped upon  him, and while one  held  his  arms  the other stabbed him with a dagger; that after fatally wounding him With the dagger they seized  his revolver  and made their escape;  and that the wounded man died  of his wounds within a few minutes after they had been inflicted.
  There can be and is no question as to the truth of the facts just set forth.  The only questions raised by counsel for the  defense  in this instance are: (1) As to the characterization of the offense  by the trial  judge, and  whether it should be held to have been  committed with aggravating circumstances;  and  (2)  whether under  the provisions  of article 11 of the Penal Code the defendants are or are not entitled  to have  the  fact that they are members of a noncivilized or semicivilized  tribe taken into consideration  as an extenuating circumstance, for the purpose of  reducing the penalty to be imposed upon them by at least  one degree.

We agree  with the trial court that upon the facts proven at the trial and briefly summarized above, there can  be no reasonable doubt that the defendants are guilty of the complex crime of robo con homicidio (robbery on the occasion of which murder was committed), as  defined and penalized in article 503 of the Penal Code,   We agree also with the trial court that the commission of  the crime was marked by  the  aggravating circumstance  of  alevosia (treachery).   The sudden and unexpected onslaught of the two Moros, one of whom held the victim by the arms while the other stabbed him to death, was a form of attack, which, in the language of the definition of the aggravating circumstance of alevosia  (treachery)  tended directly  and specifically to  insure the execution of the crime without risk to the attacking  parties arising from any  defense which might have been offered by their victim.  (Subsec. 2, art. 10,  Penal  Code.)

We do not, however, agree with the trial court as to the existence of  the  aggravating circumstances of deliberate premeditation (premeditacion conocida).  The evidence undoubtedly discloses  that the murder and robbery were premeditated,  and executed in accordance with a previously concerted plan.  But it does not affirmatively appear that a sufficent time elapsed between the conception and  the perpetration  of the crime  for that calm and deliberate reflection  upon the nature and the consequences  of  the contemplated act, as a result of which, it might fairly be expected that an aroused conscience would induce a reasonable man to relent and to turn from the commission of the deed, in the absence of a fixed and resolute purpose of mind to accomplish his design at all costs.  Following the rule laid down by the supreme court of Spain, this court has always held that  to justify an  increase  of the penalty on  the ground of the existence of  deliberate premeditation (premeditacion conocida), it must affirmatively appear that an  appreciable and, indeed, a substantial time elapsed between the  conception and the commission  of the crime. (U. S. vs. Gil, 13  Phil.  Rep., 530; U. S. vs. Blanco,  18 Phil.  Rep., 206.)   Our  finding  in  this  regard,  however, has no  effect upon the penalty to be  imposed upon  the convicts in this case; because, it appearing that the grave aggravating circumstance of  alevosia (treachery) marked the commission of the crime, the penalty prescribed by the code  must be imposed in the maximum degree in the absence of extenuating circumstances.
  We can not agree with counsel for the  defendants that they  are entitled to the benefits of the provisions of article 11 of the Penal Code, on the ground that  they are shown to be members of an uncivilized or semicivilized  tribe. Taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, we are satisfied that the offenders thoroughly understood the gravity of the crime committed by them when they made the assault upon their defenseless and unsuspecting victim; and we have no reason to believe that the  crime committed by them was prompted by peculiar tribal customs  or ancient traditions of their race, which might have led them to believe that the act committed by them was not in violation of the known laws of the community wherein they resided.  Indeed, it is very clear that  the commission  of the crime had its origin solely in cupidity, and that the criminals were actuated by no other  motive than a  desire to possess the pistol  of their victim, in  utter disregard of the value of human life.
  The penalty prescribed for the commission of the  crime of robbery  with  homicide is  either life imprisonment or death.  The commission of the offense being marked with one grave aggravating circumstance and  no  extenuating circumstances,  the  penalty  prescribed  was properly imposed in its maximum  degree by the trial court.
The sentence of death imposed by the trial judge upon both and each of the defendants should therefore be, and is hereby, affirmed,  with  the costs of this instance against the defendants.  So ordered.

Arellano,  C. J., Mapa, Johnson, and Trent,  JJ.,  concur.