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PEOPLE v. VERDE G.R. No. 119077; Feb. 10, 1999; Mendoza, J.

Digest by Reinerr Nuestro (Gray texts are irrelevant to the lesson but were included nonetheless just to give the whole picture of the case) Facts: Francisco Gealon was shot dead at around 9 o clock in the evening of March 19, 1991, while sleeping inside his tricycle in front of the house of Jose Bandiola in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental. An eyewitness account of the shooting was given by one Noli Camarines: o They were at a birthday party in the house of one Jose Bandiola and among those present were the deceased Francisco Gealon and accused-appellant Mariano Verde. o Francisco had parked his tricycle in front of the gate of the house and Noli could see it from where he was seated. o Francisco joined them at the table and drank beer and shortly thereafter, they noticed that Mariano Verde was no longer with them at the table. o Francisco himself left after a while to go to the sidecar of his tricycle to sleep and after some time, Verde approached the said tricycle, checked who was inside, stepped back, took his revolver from his hip pocket and shot Gealon in the head. o Verde then fled and Francisco was rushed to the hospital but was dead on arrival. Arcadio Gealon, elder brother of the deceased, likewise testified that his first cousins, Ireneo and Severino Gealon had been suspected of killing the father of the accused, Paredes Verde, Sr., the former mayor of the Binalbagan. He said that the accused himself told him that [t]hey have a long standing grudge with the family of Gealon. Mariano Verde interposed an alibi: o He testified that he had been the barangay captain of Brgy. Sto. Rosario in Binalbagan since 1989 and on the date of the incident, he went to the house of Jose Bandiola to attend the latters birthday party. o He stayed there until 6:30 in the evening to attend a wake on Magallanes St. which was 200 meters away from Bandiolas house and that he had been at the wake at Tamonas house since 7 o clock where he played pusoy until early morning of the following day when he heard rumors that someone was shot in front of Bandiolas house. The trial court found Mariano Verde guilty of murder and ordered him to pay the heirs of the victim P100,000 as compensatory damages and P100,000 as moral damages. Issue (Case was assigned under Loss of Earning Capacity): Whether the heirs of the victim should also be entitled to damages for the loss of earning capacity of the deceased Francisco Gealon. Held: YES. The defendant was ordered to pay the heirs of the victim: Loss of Earning Capacity: P778,545 Death Indemnity: P50,000 Moral Damages: P 50,000 Actual Damages: P50,000 Attorneys Fees: 24,000 Ratio: The fact that the prosecution did not present documentary evidence to support its claim for damages for loss of earning capacity of the ceased did not preclude the recovery of such damages. The testimony of the wife, Delia Gealon, as to the earning capacity of her husband sufficiently established the basis for making such an award. o It was established that Gealon was 48 years old at the time of his death in 1991 and that his average income was P200 a day. In accordance with the American Expectancy Table of Mortality adopted by the Court in prior cases, the loss of the earning capacity was calculated as follows:

NET EARNING CAPACITY (x) = (life expectancy) x (Gross annual income less living expenses) *where less living expenses = 50% of gross annual income * Gross annual income = P200 (per day) x 30 (month) x 12 (year) = P72,000 Hence, x = 2(80-48) x [73,000 36,500] 3 x = 21.33 x 36,500 x = 778,545 Also, the Court noted that under the ruling by the time the case was decided, the indemnity for death was P50,000. Hence, the award of P100,000 by the trial court was deemed excessive and was correspondingly reduced. The same was applied with respect to moral damages as the purpose of such award is not to enrich the heirs of the victim but to compensate them for injuries to their feelings. Hence, the P100,000 moral damages awarded by the trial court was likewise reduced in half. In addition, the heirs of the victim should be paid P50,000 by way of actual damages for the funeral and burial expenses incurred which were amply supported by receipts. P24,000 was also awarded as attorneys fees.

ISSUE: Whether Verde was guilty of murder HELD: YES RATIO: Verdes Contention: The party was held at the back of Bandiolas house and that when Bandiola and Camarines ran outside after hearing the shot, there were no other people around, hence, Camarines could not have seen the victims assailant. SC: relied on Bandiolas statement that the party was held outside beside the kitchen where the gate could actually be seen from that particular side of the house, making it possible for Camarines to have witnessed what had happened. Verde: Camarines lied that he was the first-cousin of Gealon. SC: The death certificate mentioned that Camarines was the deceaseds mother-in-law. While this was an obvious mistake considering Camarines gender, it could not be inferred that it meant that Camarines was the cousin-in-law of the ceased. On the other hand, Camarines stoutly maintained that they were not related and that they were just neighbors. Moreover, the fact that Camarines testified before the NBI two months after the incident did not impair his credibility. It is a matter of judicial notice that some people are reluctant to be involved in criminal trials. Also, there was failure to prove any ill-motive in the part of Camarines for him to falsely testify against Verde. Also, the claim of Camarines that Verde shot Gealon from behind while the latter was sleeping was corroborated by Dr. Ricardo Jaboneta, who conducted an autopsy on the body of the victim. With respect to Verdes alibi, the house where Verde allegedly went to attend a wake was only 200 meters from the place of incident which could be reached in about 15-20 minutes. Considering the short distance, the trial court could not be faulted for not giving credence to Verdes alibi. Plus, the defense of alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification of the accused by the witnesses. Finally, while there was no evident premeditation, the killing was qualified by treachery. The evidence showed that Verde shot the appellant while the latter was sleeping inside his tricycle. The elements of treachery were therefore, present: (1) the means of execution employed gives the person no opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate; and (2) the means of execution were deliberately or consciously adopted.