Criminal Law

PEOPLE vs. FORMIGONES G.R. No. L-3246 November 29, 1950 Parricide, Feeblemindedness, Imbecility, Article 12 of the RPC


Late in the afternoon, Julia was sitting at the head of the stairs of the house. The accused, without any previous quarrel or provocation whatsoever, took his bolo from the wall of the house and stabbed his wife, Julia, in the back, the blade penetrating the right lung and causing a severe hemorrhage resulting in her death not long thereafter. The blow sent Julia toppling down the stairs to the ground, immediately followed by her husband Abelardo who, taking her up in his arms, carried her up the house, laid her on the floor of the living room and then lay down beside her. In this position he was found by the people who came in response to the shouts for help made by his eldest daughter, who witnessed and testified to the stabbing of her mother by her father. Defendant admitted that he killed, motive was admittedly of jealousy because according to his statement he used to have quarrels with his wife for the reason that he often saw her in the company of his brother Zacarias.

He appealed based on the theory that the appellant is an imbecile and therefore exempt from criminal liability under article 12 of the Revised Penal Code.



Is the appellant imbecile and covered by Article 12 of the RPC?



Dr. Francisco Gomez, who examined him, it was his opinion that Abelardo was suffering only from feeblemindedness and not imbecility and that he could distinguish right from wrong.

In order that a person could be regarded as an imbecile within the meaning of article 12 of the Revised Penal Code so as to be exempt from criminal liability, he must be deprived completely of reason or discernment and freedom of the will at the time of committing the crime. The Supreme Court of Spain held that in order that this exempting circumstances may be taken into account, it is necessary that there be a complete deprivation of intelligence in committing the act, that is, that the accused be deprived of reason; that there be no responsibility for his own acts; that he acts without the least discernment;1 that there be a complete absence of the power to discern, or that there be a total deprivation of freedom of the will. For this reason, it was held that the imbecility or insanity at the time of the commission of the act should absolutely deprive a person of intelligence or freedom of will, because mere abnormality of his mental faculties does not exclude imputability.

The Supreme Court of Spain likewise held that deaf-muteness cannot be equaled to imbecility or insanity.The allegation of insanity or imbecility must be clearly proved. Without positive evidence that the defendant had previously lost his reason or was demented, a few moments prior to or during the perpetration of the crime, it will be presumed that he was in a normal condition. Acts penalized by law are always reputed to be voluntary, and it is improper to conclude that a person acted unconsciously, in order to relieve him from liability, on the basis of his mental condition, unless his insanity and absence of will are proved.

As to the strange behaviour of the accused during his confinement, assuming that it was not feigned to stimulate insanity, it may be attributed either to his being feebleminded or eccentric, or to a morbid mental condition produced by remorse at having killed his wife.

After a careful study of the record, we are convinced that the appellant is not an imbecile. According to the evidence, during his marriage of about 16 years, he has not done anything or conducted himself in anyway so as to warrant an opinion that he was or is an imbecile. He regularly and dutifully cultivated his farm, raised five children, and supported his family and even maintained in school his children of school age, with the fruits of his work. Occasionally, as a side line he made copra. And a man who could feel the pangs of jealousy to take violent measure to the extent of killing his wife whom he suspected of being unfaithful to him, in the belief that in doing so he was vindicating his honor, could hardly be regarded as an imbecile. Whether or not his suspicions were justified, is of little or no import. The fact is that he believed her faithless.

Appellant was found guilty of parricide.

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