Del Rosario: Battered woman syndrome as a defense in parricide

A CASE of parricide was filed against a woman who killed her husband. While the woman admitted to killing her husband, she raised the battered woman syndrome as her self-defense.

The Supreme Court ruled that the killing of the husband was not fully justified in this case. In order that self-defense will prosper, there must be an actual, imminent and real threat before the killing and not just an imaginary threat. In this case, there was an interval between the aggression of the husband upon the wife and her act of killing him. She was able to run away from her husband’s aggression and retreat to her children’s bedroom. So the husband already stopped his violent attack upon her and went to bed. The Court deemed that the danger from her husband already ended and there was no more threat on the wife.

However, while the Court did not consider her battered woman syndrome as a justifying circumstance, the Court ruled it as a mitigating circumstance. The Court determined that the repeated battery upon the wife produced psychological paralysis, which diminished her will power. Although it did not affect her consciousness of her actions, the experts explained that the battery lessened her will, intelligence and intent. Secondly, the violent attack upon her before the killing and the fact that she was pregnant produced passion and obfuscation. Based on the Revised Penal Code, the Court ruled that these should very well be considered as mitigating circumstances in the wife’s act of killing her husband. (People of the Philippines vs. Genosa, G.R. 135981 [2004])

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