Criminal Law

People of the Philippines vs Willie Almedilla

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G.R. No. 150590 – 409 SCRA 428 – Criminal Law –¬†Book 1 – Aggravating Circumstance – Treachery – Hitting Behind the Back – Killing After an Altercation

On July 3, 1997, Ruel Barela, a manager at a construction company confronted security guard Willie Almedilla while the latter was eating. Barela castigated Almedilla for leaving the gate open. They exchanged some word. According to witness accounts, about one minute after the argument and while Barela was already walking away from Almedilla with his back turned, Almedilla fired a shot upon Barela’s back. Barela eventually died.

The trial court convicted Almedilla of murder as it appreciated the qualifying circumstance of treachery.

On appeal, Almedilla contested the propriety of the crime for which he was convicted. He invoked the ruling in People vs Academia, Jr. (307 SCRA 229) where it was ruled that:

…treachery may not be appreciated where an altercation preceded the shooting, and the time between the altercation and shooting was not significant as to create a break in the series of events.

ISSUE: Whether or not treachery qualified the killing to murder?

HELD: Yes. The one minute that lapsed from the time of the argument until the act of shooting by Almedilla is already sufficient for him to formulate the intent to kill Barela. In fact, he made sure that Barela’s back was turned away from him before he shot him thereby ensuring that Barela had no means to defend himself. In other words, the shooting did not immediately follow the altercation. There was still a sufficient break in the series of events. Therefore, treachery was properly appreciated against Almedilla.

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