G.R. No. 2436. November 22, 1905 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title
The United States vs. Guillermo Maza: A Case of Homicide and Robbery During an Escape Attempt

### Facts
Guillermo Maza was charged and subsequently found guilty by the Court of First Instance of Batangas for assassination, robbery, assault, and lesiones menos graves. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with additional penalties. Maza appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

The case proceeded to the Supreme Court following the appeal Maza filed shortly after his initial sentencing on December 9, 1902. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision on April 18, 1903, but the intricacies of the case led to a detailed examination of the crimes committed, particularly focusing on the incident while Maza was in detention awaiting his appeal.

During his detention in the provincial jail of Batangas, on December 15, 1902, Maza, alongside other prisoners, attempted an escape. This attempted escape resulted in the murder of Baltazar Ramirez, inflicted by wounds from a revolver taken from one of the guards, and the robbery of weapons from the jail guards intended for the prisoners’ use. Additionally, wounds were inflicted upon the jail’s alcalde, resulting in a 17-day recovery period.

### Issues
1. Whether the act committed by Maza and his companions constitutes assassination, or if it should be classified as homicide.
2. If Maza can be held personally responsible for the death of Baltazar Ramirez despite the lack of evidence showing he personally inflicted the fatal wounds.
3. Whether the crimes of robbery and inflicting wounds can be treated separately or if only the penalty for the more serious crime of homicide should be imposed.

### Court’s Decision
1. The Supreme Court determined that the murder of Baltazar Ramirez should be classified as homicide rather than assassination, citing a lack of qualifying circumstances for assassination as outlined in article 403 of the Penal Code.
2. The Court held that Maza was legally responsible for Ramirez’s death, adhering to the doctrine that when individuals collaborate in a crime, each is responsible for the act as if they had committed it alone, regardless of who physically committed the act.
3. The Court ruled that Maza was indeed guilty of robbery and assault. However, pursuant to article 89 of the Penal Code, only the penalty for the more serious crime, which in this case was homicide, should be imposed in its maximum degree.

### Doctrine
This case reiterated the legal principles regarding collective responsibility in the commission of a crime, affirming that each participant is equally responsible for the acts committed by their co-conspirators. It also clarified the application of penalties under article 89 of the Penal Code when a single act constitutes multiple crimes.

### Class Notes
– **Collective responsibility in crime**: When a crime is committed by several individuals acting together, each participant is deemed as responsible as if they had committed the crime individually.
– **Classification of crimes**: The distinction between homicide and assassination is dictated by the presence or absence of qualifying circumstances.
– **Application of penalties for multiple crimes**: According to article 89 of the Penal Code, when a single act constitutes two or more crimes, or one crime is a necessary means for committing the other(s), only the penalty corresponding to the more serious crime is imposed, in its maximum degree.
– **Legal statutes cited**:
– Article 403 of the Penal Code (defines assassination).
– Article 89 of the Penal Code (regarding imposition of penalties for multiple crimes from a single act).

### Historical Background
This case emerged during the early American colonial period in the Philippines, a time of significant legal and societal transition. It reflects the incorporation of the Spanish Penal Code alongside newly introduced American judicial principles. This period was marked by efforts to adapt and blend varying legal systems and practices, evidenced by the application of both Spanish legal doctrines and emerging American legal principles in Philippine jurisprudence.


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