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Dying Declaration

Dying Declaration Evidence Rule 130 - Rules of Admissibility

Sec. 37. Dying declaration. – The declaration of a dying person, made under the consciousness of an impending death, may be received in any case wherein his death is the subject of inquiry, as evidence of the cause and surrounding circumstances of such death. 


NOTES:

What are dying declarations?

Dying declarations are the statements made by a person after the mortal wounds have been inflicted, under the belief that death is certain, stating the facts concerning the cause of, and the circumstances surrounding the homicide. (Wharton's Criminal Evidence)


Requisites for admissibility

1.  That death is imminent and the declarant is conscious of that fact

 ▪  Considerations for the consciousness of imminent death:

a.  Words or statements of the declarant
b.  His conduct at the time the declaration was made
c.  Serious nature of his wounds as to engender a belief on his part that he would not survive therefrom

2. That the declaration refers to the cause and the surrounding circumstances of such death

3. That the declaration relates to facts which the victim is competent to testify to

4. That the declaration is offered in a case wherein the declarant’s death is the subject of the inquiry.


● This is the most significant exception to the hearsay evidence rule. If before he died, X told a police officer that it was Y who shot him, it would be the officer who would be testifying in court. The officer has no personal knowledge of the event. If the dying declaration of X is offered to prove the guilt of Y, the testimony of the officer in court is definitely hearsay. The dying declaration of X is however, an exception to the inadmissibility of hearsay evidence. There has been a traditional acceptance of dying declarations because of the presumption that a dying person will tell the truth before he meets his Creator. While there is no guarantee that a person in the throes of death will tell the truth, this assumption has been traditionally accepted for almost two hundred years, an assumption which has trickled down to modern times.

● The most significant element therefore, of a dying declaration is that the declaration must have been conscious of his impending death. It is this consciousness which is assumed to be the compelling motive to tell the truth.

● To be admissible as a dying declaration, the declaration must relate to the cause and circumstances of the declarant. Any statement he makes not related to the circumstances of his death is inadmissible as a dying declaration.

● The dying declaration is admissible in any case provided the subject of inquiry in that case is the death of the declarant. The old rule that it is admissible only in a criminal case no longer holds true because of the phraseology of Sec. 37 of Rule 130.

● It is required that the declarant should die. If he lives, there is no need for the dying declaration because the declarant may testify personally based on his own personal knowledge. Suppose by chance he survives but is unable to testify due to severe physical and emotional infirmity, may his declaration be admitted in evidence? Yes but not as a dying declaration. It could be admitted as a statement made by a person immediately subsequent to a startling occurrence. The shooting of the declarant is the startling occurrence. The statement made as to the circumstances of the shooting, while not a dying declaration because he survived, could be considered as part of the res gestae under Sec. 42 of Rule 130.

● Intervening time from the making of the declaration up to the actual death is immaterial as long as the declaration was made under the consciousness of impending death and as long as no retraction was made by the declarant before his death


CASES:

People v. Devaras, 37 SCRA 697 (1971)

Facts: The next morning after being stabbed or 11 hours later, as the victim was about to be taken to the hospital, a patrolman was able to get his statement as to the identity of the perpetrators. The victim was unable to sign the statement and he died the next day.

Held: The statement was not part of the res gestae because of the lapse of considerable time between the commission of the offense and the taking of the statement. However, the statement amounts to a dying declaration, as it is a statement coming from a seriously wounded person even if death occurs hours or days after it was inflicted if there be showing that it was due to the wound whose gravity did not diminish from the time he made his declaration until the end came. There is no need for proof that the declarant state "that he has given up the hope of life.” It is enough if. from the circumstances, it can be inferred with certainty that such must have been his state of mind. It is sufficient that the circumstances are such as to lead inevitably to the conclusion that the time [of such statement] the declarant did not expect to survive the injury from which he actually died. Its admissibility is not affected by death occurring hours or days afterwards.

People v. Laquinon, 135 SCRA 91 (1985)

Facts: Pablo Remonde was shot. The barrio captain found him lying on the sand at the bank of a river. Pablo’s hands were tied on his back and he was lying face down. The barrio captain took Pablo’s ante-mortem statement and learned that he was Pablo Remonde, he was shot by Gregorio Laquinon, and that Pablo was not sure if he would survive the gunshot wounds he suffered. Pablo died in the hospital 3 days later. Laquinon was charged and convicted of Murder. Laquinon argues that the statement is not a dying declaration because it was not made under the consciousness of an impending death.

Held: The statement of the deceased Pablo Remonde is not admissible as a dying declaration since the deceased was in doubt as to whether he would die or not. The declaration fails to show that the deceased believed himself in extremis, at the point of death when every hope of recovery is extinct, which is the sole basis for admitting this kind of declarations as an exception to the hearsay rule. It may be admitted, however, as part of the res gestae since the statement was made immediately after the incident and the deceased Pablo Remonde had no sufficient time to concoct a charge against the accused.

de Leon: In Devaras, consciousness of impending death was inferred from the extent of the injuries. In Laquinon, the declarant expressly said that he was not sure that we was going to die. The moral of the story is, in taking a dying declaration, don’t ask if the declarant thinks he will die. 

People v. Sabio, 102 SCRA 218 (1981)

Facts: Catralino Espina was found by his grandnephew in his house lying and wounded. Espina asked for the police. When police officers arrived, they asked Espina “who slashed and robbed” him. Espina answered that it was Sabio. His declaration was taken down and thumbmarked by him. Sabio was charged and convicted of robbery with homicide. Sabio questions the admissibility of the declaration on the ground that it was not made under the consciousness of an impending death because the victim had hopes of recovery for his first word to his grandnephew was for the latter to fetch the police.

Held: Statement is admissible. The seriousness of the injury on the victim's forehead which had affected the brain and was profusely bleeding; the victim's inability to speak unless his head was raised; the spontaneous answer of the victim that "only Papu Sabio is responsible for my death"; and his subsequent demise from the direct effects of the wound on his forehead, strengthen the conclusion that the victim must have known that his end was inevitable. That death did not ensue till 3 days after the declaration was made will not alter its probative force since it is not indispensable that a declarant expires immediately thereafter. It is the belief in impending death and not the rapid succession of death, that renders the dying declaration admissible. The fact that the victim told his grandnephew to fetch the police, does not negative the victim's feeling of hopelessness of recovery but rather emphasizes the realization that he had so little time to disclose his assailant to the authorities.

However, only homicide was proved. The evidence supportive of the charge of robbery is at best circumstantial and does not establish beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had carried away personality belonging to the offended party. There was no eyewitness to the alleged robbery, nor was any part of the alleged missing objects recovered. The consummation of the robbery cannot he inferred nor presumed from the circumstance that the accused was seen running "with his hands inside his shirt", or that the "barro", alleged to have contained cash amounting to about P8, was seen on the floor, open and empty, or that the things and merchandise inside the house were in disarray. Nor can the dying declaration of the victim be admitted to establish the fact of robbery. The admission of dying declarations has always been strictly limited to criminal prosecutions for homicide or murder as evidence of the cause and surrounding circumstances of death.

Interval of time may be taken into account where the declaration was ambiguous as to whether the declarant believed that his death was imminent when he made the declaration.

de Leon: Could not have the statement been admissible as proof of Sabio’s guilt of robbery as a part of the res gestae?

People v. de Joya, 203 SCRA 343 (1991)

Facts: Eulalia Deamse was fatally wounded. Her grandson, Alvin Valencia, came home and found her wounded. He asked his grandmother "Apo, Apo, what happened?" The deceased victim said: "Si Paqui". After uttering those two words, she expired. It is not disputed that "Paqui" is the nickname of Pioquinto de Joya. De Joya was charged and convicted of robbery with homicide.

Held: A dying declaration to be admissible must be complete in itself. To be complete in itself does not mean that the declarant must recite everything that constituted the res gestae of the subject of his statement, but that his statement of any given fact should be a full expression of all that he intended to say as conveying his meaning in respect of such fact. The statement as offered must not be merely a part of the whole as it was expressed by the declarant; it must be complete as far it goes. It is immaterial how much of the whole affair of the death is related, provided the statement includes all that the declarant wished or intended to include in it. Thus, if an interruption cuts short a statement which thus remains clearly less than that which the dying person wished to make, the fragmentary statement is not receivable, because the intended whole is not there, and the whole might be of a very different effect from that of the fragment; yet if the dying person finishes the statement he wishes to make, it is no objection that he has told only a portion of what he might have been able to tell. Since the declarant was prevented from saying all that he wished to say, what he did say might have been qualified by the statements which he was prevented from making. That incomplete declaration is not therefore entitled to the presumption of truthfulness which constitutes the basis upon which dying declarations are received. 

In this case, the dying declaration of the deceased victim here was incomplete. The words "Si Paqui" do not constitute by themselves a sensible sentence. The phrase "Si Paqui" must, moreover, be related to the question asked by Alvin: "Apo, Apo, what happened?" Alvin's question was not: "Apo, Apo, who did this to you?" The deceased was cut off by death before she could convey a complete or sensible communication to Alvin. The trial court simply assumed that by uttering the words "Si Paqui", the deceased had intended to name her killer. But Eulalia herself did not say so and we cannot speculate what the rest of her communication might have been had death not interrupted her. We are unable to regard the dying statement as a dying declaration naming the appellant as the doer of the bloody deed.

Escolin: Justices Relova and Francisco and I disagree with this decision. Under the context, what else could have “Si Paqui” meant other than that he was responsible for the crime?

People vs. Antonio (1970)

Where the declarant stated that he would not die if treated, such statement indicates an awareness of death and the nature of his wound and his death an hour later qualifies such statement into a dying declaration, or at least, as part of res gestae.

People vs. Gueron (1983)

Where, shortly after he was wounded, the victim was asked as to whether he believed he would die and to which he replied, “I cannot ascertain,” and he died the following day, his statement is admissible both as part of res gestae and as a dying declaration.

People vs. Laquinon (1985)
               
Where the victim, when asked as to whether he thought he would die, replied, “I don’t know,” his declaration was not made under the consciousness of his imminent death and does not qualify as an antemortem statement, although the same may be admitted as part of the res gestae since it was made immediately after the incident

• The credibility and weight of the admitted dying declaration should be determined under the same rules used in other testimonial evidence

•  A dying declaration is admissible only to insofar as it refers to facts regarding the cause and surrounding circumstances of the declarant’s death

•  A dying declaration is admissible in any case as long as the requisite concur

•  A dying declaration may be oral or written or made by signs which could be testified to by a witness thereto

People vs. Odencio (1979)

If the antemortem statement was made orally, the witness who heard it may testify thereto, without necessarily reproducing the exact words as long as he can give the substance thereof, and if the deceased had an unsigned dying declaration, the same may be used as a memorandum by the witness who took it down

May be attacked on the absence of any of the requisites and may be impeached in the same manner as the testimony of any other witness on the stand

American jurisprudence: dying declarations are on the same footing as testimony of a witness on a stand and whatever would disqualify the witness would also make such declaration incompetent evidence

People vs. Molas (1993)

Facts: Bernardo Resonable went home after working in his farm. There he found his son Abelardo (8) bleeding at the doorway of their house. Bernardo carried Abelardo inside the house. Abelardo informed his father that Josue Molas was the person who not only inflicted his injuries but also stabbed his sister Dulcesima and mother Soledad. Molas and Dulcesima were sweethearts and engaged to be married. While Bernardo looked for the bodies of his wife and daughter, Abelardo was brought to the hospital by his brother Nicholas. Abelardo died the next day.

Issue: WON the statement of Abelardo is admissible

Held: Yes

Ratio: Abelardo’s statement was given to his father while he lay at death’s door, bleeding from stab wounds, as a result of which he died the next day. 

It was indubitably a dying declaration. To be admissible, a dying declaration must:

1. Concern the cause and surrounding circumstances of the declarant’s death
2. That the time it was made, the declarant was under a consciousness of impending death
3. That he was a competent witness
4. That his declaration was offered in evidence in a criminal case for homicide, murder or parricide in which the declarant is the victim

All these circumstances were present when Abelardo made his declaration

People vs. Molo (1979)

Facts: Not long after the couple Venacio Gapisa and Simeona Rapa-Gapisa had retired for the night, Simeona heard and indistinct sound of murmur and gnashing teeth. Venacio was asleep by then. Although seized by fear, Simeona managed to peep through the dilapidated buri wall and saw Dominador Molo attired only in short pants, alone. She tried to awaken Venacio but he did not respond. Molo had already climbed up the stairs and barged into the house. When he found Venacio asleep near the door, he immediately grabbed the latter’s left wrist and started hacking the old man. Venacio woke up and tried to fight back but he was unable to retaliate because Molo started hacking him again. Simeona rushed out of the house and called for help. Her son Alejandro and Roman Mangaring ran towards the house and there they found Venacio bleeding profusely. When Alejandro took his father in his arms, Venacio told him that he was boloed by Boslo, the name by which Molo was known in their locality. Roman also asked Venacio who his assailant was and the latter answered Boslo. Venacio was rushed to the hospital where he died a few minutes after arrival.

Issue: WON the statements made by Venacio to Alejandro and Roman are admissible

Held: Yes

Ratio: The statements of Venacio identifying Molo as his assailant to Alejandro and Roman are dying declarations. Considering the nature of the wounds, 8 in all, Venacio must have the seriousness of his condition and that it can therefore be inferred that he made the incrimination under the consciousness of an impending death.

People v. Salison, G.R. No. L-115690, Feb. 20, 1996

 

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