Unjustified killing

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

When a legally married person surprises his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person and kills one or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, he may not be held liable for such killing if the death is the proximate result of the outrage overwhelming him after catching his spouse in the act of infidelity. This is explained in this case of the spouses Nardo and Linda.

Despite being married for a long time and with four children, Nardo and Linda’s relationship is in turmoil. The spouses no longer live together in the same house and had a family dispute submitted for conciliation before the barangay council. Indeed, the family elders had already been consulted about their frequent marital spats. Furthermore, Linda has not been the paragon of virtue as she has been seen on several occasions in several places with other men, particularly a certain Danny.

Then one morning at about 11:30, Linda and her sister Fely and friend Lita were sitting outside the house of their neighbor Nita, talking about the strawberry plantation where they had picked berries that morning.

Suddenly, Nardo appeared before them, slapped Linda’s right cheek and said, “Come and get what you want.” Then he pulled out a knife from his pocket. The woman scampered away shouting for help. As Fely ran, she looked back and saw that her sister Linda had fallen into a canal and that Nardo stabbed her twice.

Linda’s brother Lando, who had been chopping firewood, heard the shouts of the women. He ran towards where Fely stood and saw Linda sprawled on her back bleeding, while Nardo was standing about seven to eight meters away from Linda. Lando went after Nardo but the latter ran away. He returned to pick up Linda and then rushed her to the hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

On the other hand, Nardo went to their house. When the policeman arrived, they found Nardo sitting inside the bathroom with the kitchen knife stained with fresh blood, which he apparently used to stab his wife, and an empty bottle of poison on his side. The policeman arrested Nardo but the knife was left inside the bathroom.

Based on the narration of the events by the persons named above who witnessed the incident, Nardo was charged with the crime of parricide for willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with evident premeditation and intent to kill, stabbed his wife Linda in the left chest which directly caused her death.

During the trial, the prosecution presented all the persons who witnessed the incident as above narrated.

For his part, Nardo did not deny the killing but he testified that it had been committed because when he arrived home that morning after selling strawberries in the market, he found his wife Linda and a certain Jimmy in the master bedroom engaged in what seemed to be a sexual act. In a fit of fury, he rushed to the kitchen and armed himself with a knife to protect himself from the man who looks stronger. But when he returned Jimmy had dressed up and gone out through the window. He gave chase but failed to catch him so he returned home to confront his wife. However, she was no longer there but in the house of Nita. Then he asked Linda why she had gone to bed with another man. Linda infuriated him more when she revealed her plan to separate from him. So Nardo slapped Linda as she ran away. But he chased her down the slope where both of them rolled down and were later found by the police.

The lower court, however, still convicted Nardo because his testimony is self-serving and insufficient to prove his innocence. This decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

According to the Supreme Court, the defense of Nardo does not hold water. The death must be the proximate result of the outrage overwhelming him after catching his spouse in the act of infidelity. The killing by the husband of his wife must be concerned with her flagrant adultery. In this case there was failure of the defense to prove the alleged discovery of the sexual congress between Linda and Jimmy. On the contrary, witnesses for the prosecution testified that Linda had been with them picking berries all morning on that fateful day. The improbability of the claimed adulterous rendezvous is thus apparent. In effect, the uncorroborated testimony of Nardo that Linda committed the ultimate act of infidelity was successfully rebutted. His defense therefore has no leg to stand on.

The killing of an errant spouse can only be justified when the errant spouse is caught in flagrante delicto and it must be resorted to only with great caution, so much so that the law requires that it be inflicted only during the sexual intercourse or immediately thereafter (People vs. Wagas G.R. 61704, March 8, 1989).

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