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Impossible Crime

Is killing a dead person a crime?

In PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, -versus – HESSON CALLAO Y MARCELINO and JUNELLO AMAD, Accused-Appellant. G.R. No. 228945, SECOND DIVISION, March 14, 2018, CAGUIOA, J. The Supreme Court discussed the requisites of impossible crime:

(1) The act performed was an offense against persons or property;
(2) The act was done with evil intent; and
(3) accomplishment was inherently impossible, or the means employed was either inadequate or ineffectual.

The third element, inherent impossibility of accomplishing the crime, was explained more clearly by the Court in the case of Intod v. Court of Appeals. It was established that to be impossible under this clause, the act intended by the offender must be by its nature one impossible of accomplishment. There must be either (1) legal impossibility, or (2) physical impossibility of accomplishing the intended act to qualify the act as an impossible crime.

Sario Joaquin (Sario), the lone witness, testified that while in the flea market, Hesson and Junello discussed a plan to kill the victim, Fernando Adlawan (Fernando) as ordered by one Enrile Yosores (Enrile). Sario was not part of the planning and did not know why Enrile wanted to have Fernando killed. In the evening of the same day, Hesson, Junello, Remmy and Sario left the flea market and went to the house of Fernando. Sario tagged along because Hesson threatened to kill him if he separated from the group. Junello, upon seeing Fernando, approached the latter and asked for a cigarette lighter. After Fernando gave Junello the lighter, the latter struck Fernando on the nape with a piece of firewood. Junello then took a bolo and hacked Fernando’s body on the side. Fernando lost consciousness and as he laid motionless on the ground, Hesson stabbed him twice in the chest using a knife. Hesson then sliced open Fernando’s chest and took out the latter’s heart using the same knife. Junello followed and took out Fernando’s liver using a bolo. Hesson and Junello then fed Fernando’s organs to a nearby pig after which they cut Fernando’s neck and sliced his body into pieces. Thereafter, the two (2) accused left the crime scene, followed by Sario and Remmy. After the incident, Remmy was killed by Enrile during the town fiesta of Guincalaban.

The trial court found Hesson guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder qualified by treachery. CA affirmed the trial court’s conviction with modification only as to the damages awarded. Hesson argues that he should only be convicted of committing an impossible crime. Allegedly, he cannot be held liable for Murder because it was legally impossible for him to kill Fernando as the latter was already dead when he stabbed him.

ISSUE: Whether the crime committed was not murder but an impossible crime. (NO) RULING: Hesson is liable for Murder, not for an impossible crime.

The third element, inherent impossibility of accomplishing the crime, was explained more clearly by the Court in the case of Intod v. Court of Appeals:

The impossibility of killing a person already dead falls in this category. On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when extraneous circumstances unknown to the actor or beyond his control prevent the consummation of the intended crime. The victim’s fact of death before he was stabbed by Hesson was not sufficiently established by the defense. While Sario testified that he thought Fernando was already dead after he was hacked by Junello because the former was already lying on the ground motionless, this statement cannot sufficiently support the conclusion that, indeed, Fernando was already dead when Hesson stabbed him. Sario’s opinion of Femando’s death was arrived at by merely looking at the latter’s body. No other act was done to ascertain this, such as checking of Fernando’s pulse, heartbeat or breathing. More importantly, Hesson is still liable for murder because of the clear presence of conspiracy between Hesson and Junello. As such, Junello’s acts are likewise, legally, Hesson’s acts. Write us at