US vs. Alfont (G.R. No. 444; January 28, 1902)

THE UNITED STATES, Complainant-Appellee, v. LEONCIO ALFONT, Defendant-Appellant. (G.R. No. 444; January 28, 1902; 001 Phil 114); TORRES, J.:

On the morning of April 7, 1898, between the hours of 9 and 11, on the road between the towns of Mabolo and Mandaue, the defendant, Leoncio Alfont, commanding a group of insurgents against Spanish rule, shot and killed with the rifle he was carrying a woman called Eduviges Monteclaro. The deceased at the time of her death was in a quilez driven by herself in which she had come from the city of Cebu.

The facts constituting the crime of homicide defined and punished under article 404 of the Penal Code are fully established in the record by the testimony of witnesses who had knowledge of the occurrence and saw the corpse of the deceased, and also by the admissions of the accused himself. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, and in his testimony stated that he had not intended to kill the woman Eduviges but had fired solely to intimidate her and to compel her to stop the quilez she was driving, as she had not halted when challenged by the defendant; and that as his horse happened to rear just at the time he fired the shot the charge struck the quilez, without his knowing whether or not the person within was wounded or killed.

Against this explanation, which certainly is not confirmed by the testimony of his witnesses, the case offers data of weight and merit sufficient to produce full moral conviction of the guilt of the accused, as the sole principal by direct participation of the violent death of the woman Eduviges Montecarlo, and they are in effect as follows: The statement which the accused made to the husband of the deceased on the very morning of the happening, stating that he had just killed the latter’s wife and if he did not move off he would kill him also, which statement was heard by three witnesses, who furthermore affirmed that they had heard the accused say that he had killed Monteclaro because she was a spy of the Spaniards; the contradictory and conflicting statements of the accused in his sworn testimony, and the fact that it was a matter of public rumor, to which several witnesses testified, that the defendant was the one who killed Eduviges. All of these facts taken together are sufficient to produce a reasonable conviction of his guilt, and the shot which caused the death of the deceased can not be considered as an involuntary act or one due to imprudence.

In the commission of the crime it is not proper to consider the existence of any circumstances either mitigating or aggravating, although in view of the conditions of disorder which prevailed on the date of the occurrence there should be taken into account the circumstance mentioned in article 11 of the Code for the sole purpose of reducing the penalty.

Neither does justice require the admission of the contention made at the trial by the counsel for the defense, to wit, that Leoncio Alfont fired at the deceased because she disobeyed an order prohibiting the passing of a line established by the insurgents — because the band captained by Alfont was made up of seditious uprisers who went about from place to place without discipline or organization, and on the scene of the occurrence there was neither trench, line of defense, military position, nor established encampment with military rules, methods, or regulations. Therefore it was impossible that there should have been a violation of the same on the part of the deceased which could justify or excuse her violent death, and for that reason the criminal act in question must be treated as an ordinary crime committed during rebellion or sedition, and to be punished according to article 244 of the Penal Code and the provisions thereof, since the death of Eduviges Monteclaro was not necessary or indispensable to the object and purpose of the rebels.

Based upon the considerations set forth it is deemed proper to affirm the sentence appealed from, it being understood furthermore that the defendant is condemned to the payment of an indemnity of 1,000 Mexican pesos to the widower and heirs of the deceased and to the payment of costs. It is so ordered.