Significance of physical evidence in determination of accused's guilt paramount

Quite apart from the fact that the prosecution witnesses' testimonies by their very nature are not deserving of credence, the physical evidence introduced contradicted the import of their testimony, particularly as to the place where the victim was killed. This doubt is brought out by the observation of Rodolfo Pagayon, the PNP officer in Salvador, Lanao del Norte who investigated the incident the morning after the crime was committed. He said that when he examined the cadaver and the surroundings, he did not see any blood stains under the victim's folding bed or on the peelings of corn piled beneath the bed. This finding is insignificant in view of the fact that the victim's head had been shattered and a part thereof blown away by shots from the powerful grand rifle. The head wounds, together with other gunshots wounds, particularly one in the abdomen, would have produced profuse bleeding. So too, the folding bed on which he was allegedly shot, and its immediate vicinity, would have also been blood-soaked. Surprisingly, signs of massive hemorrhaging were not found thereat. Thus, there is an irreconcilable gap between the prosecution witnesses' claim that the victim was shot there, and the physical evidence (or lack thereof) which negate the truth of such statements. Furthermore, we take note of the fact that a garand rifle is a semi-automatic rifle which expels an empty shell every time a shot is fired. Prosecution witnesses Sanchez and Damas testified that the firearms used in the shooting were fired twelve times. But PNP investigating officer Rodolfo Pagayon testified that he did not find even one empty shell at the "scene" of the crime. Nor was he able to locate the grand rifle of the victim. These material findings as to the physical evidence render the testimony of the two prosecution witnesses unworthy of credit. Moreover, the prosecution failed to present in evidence the folding bed and the clothes worn by the victim when he was shot, which, had they been presented, could have thrown light upon the questions at hand. The significance of the physical evidence in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused is paramount. The failure of the prosecution to account for the whereabouts of the folding bed and clothes of the victim does not inspire belief in the already tenuous and questionable proof of the guilt of the accused. [G.R. No. 121195. November 27, 1996]

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