Murder

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Definition

Murder is the unlawful killing of any person when qualified by any of the circumstances listed under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.[1] Article 248 reads:

Art. 248. Murder. — Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death, if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:
1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity.
2. In consideration of a price, reward, or promise.
3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment or assault upon a street car or locomotive, fall of an airship, by means of motor vehicles, or with the use of any other means involving great waste and ruin.
4. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic or other public calamity.
5. With evident premeditation.
6. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, or outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse.

The provision noted above, Article 246, refers to parricide. The crime is homicide if the unlawful killing is done without the circumstances enumerated in Article 248.


Elements

The elements of murder are: (1) That a person was killed; (2) That the accused killed him; (3) That the killing was attended by any of the qualifying circumstances mentioned in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code; and (4) The killing is not parricide or infanticide.[2]

Qualifying circumstances in murder

A qualifying circumstance not only gives the crime its proper and exclusive name but also places the author thereof in such a situation as to deserve no other penalty than that specially prescribed for said crime.[3] The qualifying circumstances in murder, enumerated in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, are discussed below.

Treachery

There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. The essence of treachery is the swift and unexpected attack on the unarmed victim without the slightest provocation on the part of the victim.[4] Read more about Treachery.

Treachery qualifies the killing to murder; evident premeditation becomes a mere generic aggravating circumstance.[5]

Evident premeditation

For evident premeditation to be considered, the following must be established: (1) the time when the accused determined (conceived) to commit the crime; (2) an overt act manifestly indicating that he clung to his determination to commit the crime (kill his victim); and (3) a sufficient lapse of time between the decision to commit the crime and the execution thereof to allow the accused to reflect upon the consequences of his act. Premeditation presupposes a deliberate planning of the crime before executing it. The execution of the criminal act, in other words, must be preceded by cool thought and reflection. As here, there must be showing of a plan or preparation to kill, or proof that the accused meditated and reflected upon his decision to execute the crime.[6] Read more about Evident premeditation.

Cruelty

The number of wounds found upon the corpse does not, by itself alone, justify the acceptance of the circumstance of cruelty, it being necessary to show that he deliberately and inhumanly increased the sufferings of the victim.[7]


References

  1. People vs. Gutierrez, G.R. No. 142905, 18 March 2002
  2. People vs. Cabiles, Sr., et al., G.R. No. 115216, 5 July 1996, citing Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, 13th Ed., p. 424
  3. People vs. Layson, G.R. No. L-25177, 31 October 1969
  4. People vs. Gutierrez, G.R. No. 142905, 18 March 2002
  5. People vs. Layson, G.R. No. L-25177, 31 October 1969
  6. People vs. Sanchez, G.R. No. 188610, 29 June 2010
  7. People vs. Aguinaldo, G.R. No. L-33843, 11 February 1931
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