US Marine loses appeal over transgender woman's killing

Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was found guilty of homicide in 2015 for the killing of transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude
Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was found guilty of homicide in 2015 for the killing of transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude
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13 April, 2017

The Court of Appeals has affirmed a regional trial court's ruling finding US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton guilty of homicide over the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude. Local court said that the 20-year-old Pemberton arm-locked and dunked the victim's head in the toilet to her death, when he found she still had male genitals after they agreed to have sex in a bar. But the appellate court, through Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison, said Pemberton's alibi was "more imaginary than real".

He was jailed for between six and 10 years on a Philippine military base.

In his petition, Pemberton argued that he killed Laude in self-defense after the latter allegedly molested him.

A lawyer for the Laude family said the ruling of the CA is expected since Pemberton's arguments are mere rehash of what he already raised before the trial court.

Gabriela partylist representatives Emmie de Jesus and Arlene Brosas said that with CA's verdict, Pemberton should be immediately transferred to the national penitentiary.

Pemberton claimed that he had confronted Laude about not being a biological woman and she slapped him in response, and things escalated from there.

Aside from exemplary damage, the appeals court also upheld the award of more than four million pesos to the heirs of Laude for loss of earning capacity.

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In a ruling dated April 3, but only made public on Monday, the Court of Appeals denied Pemberton's appeal due to "lack of merit".

The appellate court, however, revised the civil indemnity and moral damages set by the RTC at P50,000 to P75,000 each. His claim is disputed as Laude was found drowned in the shallow water of the toilet, which led to her death.

It also affirmed the P155,250 actual damages as Laude's family was able to prove through actual receipts of damages representing autopsy, wake, and burial expenses. "Further, Pemberton is entitled to be credited with the full time of his preventive imprisonment...", the CA ruled.

The Olongapo court issued the guilty verdict for homicide against Pemberton on December 2015 in a controversial trial that lasted for a year.

"The fact that a member of the US Marines was found guilty for breach of our criminal laws for the very first time is an affirmation of Philippine sovereignty", he said.

The Marine corporal remains detained in a US-owned air-conditioned van in Camp Aguinaldo, the general headquarters of the Philippine military.

"The special treatment accorded to Pemberton since his conviction shows the disparity and injustice that agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement [VFA] and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement [EDCA] bestows upon the Filipino people", Brosas said.


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