US Marine's conviction for killing transgender Filipina upheld

In a 48-page decision promulgated last April 3, the special 16th Division of the appellate court affirmed the final verdict of the Olongapo City regional trial court (RTC) in March previous year that found the American serviceman guilty of homicide.

Despite the affirmation of his conviction for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton may regain his freedom this coming July.

In its ruling, the appeal court ruled: 'The only reason why he attacked Laude was that he was furious at him for pretending to be a woman, nothing more, nothing less'. Angry people called for the termination of an agreement signed in 1998 that allowed USA military forces to make regular visits to the country.

The case had strained relations between the Philippines and its former colonial ruler and main defense partner, with activists and LGBT rights groups urging Manila to scrap the military deal with Washington.

Pemberton's lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores said they will now be lodging a further appeal with the Philippine Supreme Court.

Pemberton's camp also argued that the Olongapo court brushed aside evidence establishing the possibility that Laude was killed by another person.

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

The appellate court, however, revised the civil indemnity and moral damages set by the RTC at P50,000 to P75,000 each.

The CA, in the decision received on Monday, said Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton's plea to reverse the guilty verdict was junked because his defense lacked merit.

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But the CA said the case was filed against Pemberton on December 15, 2014 or four days before Pemberton presented himself to the trial court.

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.

Aggrieved, Pemberton then raised his argument to the appellate court.

"T$3 he conviction of Pemberton for homicide is undeniable", the decision read.

The CA also agreed with the regional trial court that Pemberton's time under detention in Camp Aquinaldo should be credited as time served.

Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Henri Jean Paul Inting concurred with this ruling.

Roque stressed that Pemberton is the first member of the US Marines found guilty of violating criminal laws in the country. "It's also a victory and justice for the Filipino people", Atty.

Under an agreement signed by the Philippine and U.S. governments, persons like Pemberton should be detained at a mutually agreed place of detention, in this case Camp Aguinaldo.

  • Megan Austin