CA upholds verdict for 2 frat members-A A +A
Sunday, August 31, 2014
THE Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the conviction of two members of the Alpha Kappa Rho (Akrho) fraternity for the death of a 19-year-old business management student they mistook to be a rival group member in 2003.
The CA’s 19th Division upheld the decision of Regional Trial Court Judge Bienvenido Saniel Jr. finding Sherwin Que and Anthony John Apura guilty of murder.
“Que admitted that it was he who shot the victim. No doubt, this admission of shooting the victim is material evidence of the killing and the identity of Que as the perpetrator,” read the CA ruling penned by Associate Justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap with the concurrence of Associate Justices Edgardo delos Santos and Jhosep Lopez.
The appellate court sustained Saniel’s ruling declaring Apura guilty of murder for being an accomplice in the death of Mark James Enriquez.
While the justices affirmed the trial court’s decision, they modified the award of damages for Enriquez’s heirs and Apura’s jail term.
The justices ordered Que to pay Enriquez’s heirs P4,431,013.62 as actual damages; P75,000 as civil indemnity; P50,000 as moral damages; P30,000 as exemplary damages plus six percent interest from the date of incident to the finality of the judgment.
The appeals court sentenced Apura from six to 12 years in jail and ordered the cancellation of his bail. The justices also ordered the issuance of alias warrant for the other accused who are still at large.
Enriquez, a student of the University of San Carlos, was shot dead after he was mistaken for a member of Tau Gamma Phi in an uptown bar in Cebu City on July 18, 2003.
Que, then an adviser of Tau Gamma’s rival Akrho Talamban chapter, was in the bar on Archbishop Reyes Ave., celebrating the birthday of one of his frat brothers.
Enriquez was mistaken for a member of Tau Gamma because he was sporting a short haircut favored by newly recruited Tau Gamma members.
In May 2007, Judge Saniel found Que and Apura, the former barangay councilman and son of Carcar City Vice Mayor Nicepuro Apura, guilty of murder.
Que was sentenced to 20-40 years behind bars, while Apura was sentenced to six to 14 years in jail for being an accomplice.
Que and Apura were also ordered to pay the heirs of Enriquez P50,000 as indemnity and P50,000 as moral damages.
The court also ordered the issuance of warrants of arrest against the three other
accused, who remained at large.
Que and Apura appealed their conviction.
In June 2007, the lower court granted Apura’s motion to post bail of P200,000.
Apura, in his appeal, argued the trial court erred in convicting him citing absence of “clear and convincing evidence.”
In their ruling, the justices said that Que admitted shooting Enriquez.
“It behooved upon Que to prove his defense that the killing was justified because he acted in self-defense,” the justices said.
They said that Que is required to rely on the strength of his own evidence, not on the weakness of the prosecution’s evidence.
“There can be no self-defense unless the victim committed unlawful aggression against the person who resorted to self-defense,” the justices said.
Citing Que’s testimony, the justices said it is “crystal clear” that Enriquez was not
even the unlawful aggressor.
The justices also dismissed Apura’s defense, saying he was the first who struck Enriquez in the head using a bottle.
The acts occurred in “close proximity,” the justices held, and Apura was seen leaving with Que and his group members.
“These circumstances constitute convincing evidence of unity of purpose with the principal (Que) that makes Apura an accomplice,” the justices said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 01, 2014.