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Merciales v CA

FACTS
Criminal cases for rape with homicide in connection of the death of Maritess Merciales were filed against private
respondents/accused .
During the trial, the public prosecuter filed a motion for the discharge of accused Nuada so that he could be a state
witness but the prosecution contended that it was not required to present evidence to warrant the discharge of
Nuada because he was already under the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ But this was motion was denied
for failure of prosecutor to present evidence provided in Sec 9, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure
,Prosecution then filed petition for certiorari [GR. No. 113273-78, another case] before the SC question such
denial. .The private respondents then filed a motion to set the case for hearing based on their constitutional right
to speedy trial which was granted and the hearing was set on July 29, 1994
On that date, the prosecution filed an MR, instead of presenting of further evidence. The hearing was postponed
and set for another hearing (Aug 9) ,On that said date, prosecutor again filed for MR and invoked its pending
petition for certiorari with the SC but the respondents objected to reset the hearing again. ,The judge called for
recess to allow the prosecution to present the NBI agent would be presented to prove the extrajudicial confession
of the accused Nuada ,But after the recess, the public prosecutor declined to present the NBI agent and manifested
that it would not anymore present further evidence .The defense then moved that the cases be deemed submitted
for decision and asked leave of court to file a DEMURRER to evidence .The SG filed in the case before the SC a
motion for issuance of a TRO to enjoin the judge but was denied by the SC .In the decision of RTC, It dismissed
the charge of rape with homicide based on demurrer to evidence filed by private respondents/accused; hence, the
accused were ACQUITTED and the criminal cases against them were DISMISSED for lack of sufficient
evidence to prove the guild of the accused beyond reasonable doubt .
Petitioner argued: reopening of the criminal case will not violate the accuseds right to double jeopardy.
There was judicial misconduct due to the prosecutions premature resting and trial courts grant of the demurrer to
evidence even if the presentation of the evidence for the prosecution has not been completed (violation of due
process) while in contrast with the Respondents argument: extrinsic fraud, abuse of discretion and jurisdiction
defect to warrant the annulment or Reopening of the case will violate the accuseds right against double jeopardy .
ISSUE: Could there be an acquittal by demurrer in this case? NO. There was grave abuse of discretion by the trial court.
HELD: PETITION GRANTED, case remanded, RTC judge order to complete presentation of all available witness for the
prosecution
The trial court required the public prosecutor to present evidence to justify Nuadas discharge as state witness but
it insisted there was no need to do so because Nuada was already under the Witness Protection Program of the
DOJ
Due to this refusal to present the required evidence it prompted the trial court to deny the motion to discharge
Nuada
Again, the trial court the directed public prosecutor to present Atty. Caabay, the NBI agent who took Nuadas
extrajudicial confession but the prosecutor declared that he was resting the prosecutions case, knowing fully well
that the evidence he previously presented was not sufficient to convict the accused.
And due to that, a demurrer to evidence was filed by the accused and was granted by the trial court
It was then clear that the public prosecutor was guilty of serious nonfeasance. It was his duty to take all steps to
protect the rights of the people in trial. He should have exhausted all available proof to establish the guilt of the
accused.
Due to the nature of the testimonies of the 7 prosecution witness and and nature of the circumstances, the trial
court (motu proprio) should have called additional witnesses to question such them to satisfy his mind to the
issues of the case
The petitioner was deprived of her day in court. It is not only the State but also the offended party that is entitled to due
process in criminal cases. With regard the acquittal of the accused by the trial was done without regard to due process of
law, it is null and void as if there was no acquittal at all. It cannot be double jeopardy
HENCE, it was very apparent that the public prosecutor violated the due process rights of the private complainant owing
to its blatant disregard of procedural rules and the failure to present available crucial evidence, which would tend to prove

the guilt or innocence of the accused therein. Moreover, we likewise found that the trial court was gravely remiss in its
duty to ferret out the truth and, instead, just passively watched as the public prosecutor bungled the case.
When there is a finding that there was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in dismissing the
criminal case by granting the accuseds demurrer to evidence, the judgment of the TC is considered VOID.
The grant or denial of a demurrer to evidence is left to the sound discretion of the trial court, and its ruling on the
matter shall not be disturbed in the absence of a grave abuse of such discretion.
As to effect, the grant of a demurrer to evidence amounts to an acquittal and cannot be appealed because it would
place the accused in double jeopardy.
The order is reviewable only by certiorari if it was issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction.
When grave abuse of discretion is present, an order granting a demurrer becomes null and void.
The accused cannot be in double jeopardy because the lower court acted without jurisdiction (the trial judge in
this case acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, for a judgment which is void for lack of due process is
equivalent to excess or lack of jurisdictionThe power of courts to grant demurrer in criminal cases should be
exercised with great caution, because not only the rights of the accused but those of the offended party and the
public interest as well are involved.