Lejano vs People (GR No. 176389 December 14, 2010)

Lejano vs People of the Philippines
GR No. 176389 December 14, 2010

Facts: On June 30, 1991, Estrelita Vizconde and her daughter Carmela nineteen and Jennifer seven were brutally slain at their home in Parañaque City. Following an intense investigation, the police arrested a group of suspects, some of whom gave detailed confessions. But the trial court smelled a frame-up and eventually ordered them discharged. Thus, the identities of the real perpetrators remained a mystery especially to the public whose interest were aroused by the gripping details of what everybody referred to as the Vizconde massacre. Four years later in 1995, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) announced that it had solved the crime. It presented star witness Jessica Alfaro, one of its informers, who claimed ghat she witnessed the crime. She pointed to the accused Herbert Jeffrey Webb, Antonio “Tony Boy” Lejano, Artemio Dong Ventura, Michael Gatchalian, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, Peter Estrada, Miguel Ging Rodriguez, and Joey Filart as the culprits. She also tagged police officer Gerardo Biong as an accessory after the fact. Relying primarily on Alfaro’s testimony, on August 10, 1995, the public prosecutors filed an information for rape with homicide against Webb etal. The prosecution presented Alfaro as its main witness with the others corroborating her testimony. These included the medico-legal officer who autopsied the bodies of the victims, the security guard of Pitong Daan subdivision, the former laundry-woman of the Webb’s household, police officer Biong’s former girlfriend, and Lauro Vizconde, Estrelita’s husband.

Issue: Whether or not failure to conduct a DNA test on the semen specimen found on Carmela is a ground for Webb’s acquittal.

Held: No. The medical evidence clearly established that Carmela was raped and, consistent with this, semen specimen was found in her. It is true that Alfaro identified Webb in her testimony, as Carmela’s rapist and killer but serious questions had been raised about her credibility. At the very least, there exist a possibility that Alfaro had lied. On the other hand, the semen specimen was taken from Carmela cannot possibly lie. It cannot be coached or allured by a promise of reward or financial support. No two persons have the same DNA finger print, with the exception of identical twins. If, on examination, the DNA of the subject specimen does not belong to Webb, then he did not rape Carmela. It is that simple. Thus, the court would have been able to determine that Alfaro committed perjury in saying that he did. Still, Webb is not entitled to acquittal for failure of the state to produce the semen specimen at this late stage. For one thing, the ruling in Brady vs Maryland that he cites his no longer long been overtaken by the decision in Arizona vs Youngblood, where the US Supreme Court held that due process does not require the State to preserve the semen specimen although it might be useful to the accused unless the latter is able to show bad faith on the part of the prosecution or the police. Here, the state presented a medical expert who testified on the existence of the specimen and Webb in fact, sought to have the same subjected to DNA test.

For another, when Webb raised the DNA issue, the rule governing DNA evidence did not yet exist, the country did not yet have the technology for conducting the test and no Philippine precedent had as yet recognized its admissibility as evidence.

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