dying declaration

Dying Declaration
The ante mortem statements made by a person after the mortal wound has been inflicted under the belief that the death is certain, stating the fact concerning the cause of and the circumstances surrounding the attack.

When Applicable
It applies to any case where the death of the declarant is the subject of the inquiry.

1. That the death is imminent and the declarant is conscious of such fact
2. That the declaration refers to the cause and the surrounding circumstances of such death
3. That the declaration refers to the facts which the victim is competent to testify to
4. That the declaration is offered in a case wherein the declarant’s death is subject of the inquiry (the victim necessarily must have died)
5. That the statement must be complete in itself. (People vs. De Joya, 203 SCRA 343).

Reason For Its Admission
1. Necessity – because the declarant’s death renders impossible his taking the witness stand
2. Trustworthiness – at the point of death, every motive for falsehood is silenced. The mind is induced by the most powerful consideration to speak the truth.

Determination Of Consciousness Of Impending Death:
1. Utterances
2. Circumstances – that at the time of the making of the declaration, the declarant did not expect to survive the injury from which he actually died
3. Actual character and seriousness of his wounds
4. By his conduct.

A dying declaration may be oral or written or made by signs which could be interpreted and testified to by a witness thereto.

There must be settled, hopeless expectation that death is at hand. It is sufficient that he believed himself in imminent danger of death at the time of such declaration.

Dying declarations favorable to the accused are admissible.

Dying declarations may also be regarded as part of the res gestae as they were made soon after the startling occurrence without the opportunity for fabrication or concoction.

Dying declaration is NOT considered as a confidential communication between the spouses.

A dying declaration may be attacked on the ground that any of the requisites for its admissibility are not present and the same may be impeached in the same manner as the testimony of any of the witnesses on the stand.

Explain the concept of dying declaration as an exception to the hearsay rule.
a. The declaration of a dying person,
b. Made under consciousness of an impending death,
c. May be received in any case wherein his death is the subject of inquiry,
d. As evidence of the cause and surrounding circumstances of such death.

Requisites of ante-mortem statement:
a. It must concern any case involved in and the circumstances surrounding the declarant's death
b. At the time of the declaration, the declarant must be conscious of impending death
c. The declarant must be competent as a witness
d. The declaration must be offered in any case wherein the death of the declarant is the subject of inquiry and
e. The declarant actually died, otherwise, the declaration may be admitted as part of the res gestae and not as a dying declaration.

(People vs. Tanaman, et al., G.R. No. 71768, July 28, 1987) Victim need not state that he has lost all hope of recovery. It is sufficient that circumstances are such as to inevitably lead to the conclusion that at the time the declaration was made, the declarant would not expect to survive the injury
from which he actually died. The degree and seriousness of the wounds and the fact that death supervened thereafter constitute substantial evidence of the victim's consciousness of his impending death.

Dying declaration has weight even if declarant did not die immediately after his declaration:

The fact that the declarant died four (4) hours after his statement does not diminish the probative value of the dying declaration since it is not indispensable that the declarant expires immediately thereafter.

It is the belief of impending death and not the rapid succession of death that renders the dying declaration admissible. (People v. Bautista, G.R. No. 111149, prom. September 5, 1997)

Mere gesture of dying victim inconclusive: The gesture of a dying woman in pointing to a direction, when asked for the identity of her assailant, is too vague to be given such probative value in determining the culpability of the accused.

REASON: Unlike an oral or a written declaration, a simple gesture of the hand unaccompanied by words, is open to various interpretations by the witness who testifies to its existence. Thus, the evidence comes to the court couched in the witness' second-hand perception and possibly, imbued with his personal meanings and biases. This is what makes hearsay evidence objectionable. The second-hand evidence is placed before the court without the benefit of cross-examination by the party
against whom it is brought, nor of any other means of assessing the competence and credibility of the source. (People vs. Ola, G.R. No. L-47147, July 3, 1987)