PEOPLE v. RICKY ROGER AUSTRIA G.R. No. 134279 March 8, 2001
April 11, 2011
PEOPLE v. RICKY ROGER AUSTRIA
G.R. No. 134279 March 8, 2001
Accused was found guilty of the crime of murder, and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua with all the accessory penalties provided by law, and to pay the costs
The SC held that the inconsistencies in Rowena Junio’s testimony do not refer to incidental or collateral matters. The basis of her identification of accused-appellant as the victim’s assailant was precisely her purported familiarity with accused-appellant. She did not pick him out of a police line-up nor did she provide the police with a description of the assailant. She pointed to accused-appellant because she allegedly knew him prior to the killing. If the witness was not at all familiar with accused-appellant, the prosecution’s whole case collapses for such familiarity was its very foundation.
In the face of doubts regarding the familiarity of the witness with the alleged assailant, the distance of the witness from the scene and the visibility conditions thereat assume greater significance. The prosecution did not show, however, whether the intensity of the defective lamp was sufficient to enable the witness to see accused-appellant’s face, considering her distance from the scene.
Accused-appellant invoked alibi, which he failed to corroborate with other evidence. Nevertheless, this circumstance would not sustain his conviction. As a rule, alibis should be considered with suspicion and received with caution, not only because they are inherently weak and unreliable, but also because they can easily be fabricated. But equally fundamental is the axiom that evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense. And, where the prosecution’s evidence is weak or just as equally tenuous, alibi need not be inquired into.
The prosecution has also failed to establish any motive on the part of the accused-appellant to kill the deceased. While generally, the motive of the accused is immaterial and does not have to be proven, proof of the same becomes relevant and essential when, as in this case, the identity of the assailant is in question.
Considering the apparent unreliability of the evidence proffered by the prosecution, this Court is constrained to rule for an acquittal. In all criminal cases, all doubts should be resolved in favor of the accused on the principle that it is better to liberate a guilty man than to unjustly keep in prison one whose guilt has not been proven by the required quantum of evidence. Conviction, it is said, must rest on nothing less than a moral certainty of guilt that we find here to be wanting. The SC reversed the decision of the lower court, and acquitted the accused on ground of reasonable doubt.
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