US Marine's Bid To Get Murder Charges Dropped In Death Of Transgender Filipina Rejected
An attempt by U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton to get murder charges against him dropped in the death of a transgender Filipina has failed. The Associated Press reports the Philippines Department of Justice rejected Pemberton's appeal in the murder case of Jennifer Laude.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports the Department of Justice wrote in a 12-page resolution:
“After a judicious scrutiny of the evidence on record, we find no reason to alter, modify or reverse the resolution of the city prosecutor of Olongapo."
Laude's loved ones were pleased with the Department of Justice's decision, according to family attorney Harry Roque:
“The nation deserves to know the truth, while the victim deserves justice."
Philippine media have reported that on the night of Oct. 11, 2014, Pemberton met Laude at a nightclub and the two later ended up at the Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City.
Police contend Pemberton strangled Laude, then drowned her in the motel's toilet bowl.
An autopsy conducted on Laude's body showed "asphyxiation by drowning" as the cause of death.
The Associated Press has reported Pemberton's friend, Lance Cpl. Jairn Michael Rose, told investigators that Pemberton admitted he choked Laude after discovering she was transgender:
"I think I killed a he/she," Pemberton was quoted as having told Rose.
Pemberton was initially held in the brig of the San Diego-based USS Peleliu, but was later moved to a military camp in the Philippines (under U.S. custody).
The Marine Corps Times reports the Laude homicide has had international consequences:
The case has refueled opposition to a military agreement between Manila and Washington that allows U.S. custody over American service members accused of crimes in the Philippines.
According to the New York Times, Pemberton could serve up to 40 years in prison if he is convicted of murder.