A appeals court today (Monday, April 10) affirmed a regional court’s conviction of a US Marine and his jail sentence of up to 10 years for killing a ladyboy in Subic.
The Court of Appeals rejected Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton’s claim of self-defence in killing Jennifer Laude in a hotel room in Olongapo City after they met in a bar in October 2014.
The killing sparked widespread anger across the Philippines and bolstered calls for an end to the US military presence in the country.
Pemberton had claimed Laude molested him in the motel room by pretending to be a woman and he was forced to “defend his dignity”. He said the violence began when Laude slapped him after he confronted her for pretending to be a woman. However, he denied that he had any intention to kill her.
In the Court of Appeals decision handed down by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison, it was noted that physical evidence contradicted Pemberton’s claims.
“As proven by the prosecution, Pemberton did not leave Laude merely unconscious, but ensured his death by submerging his head inside the toilet bowl,” it said.
“Clearly, Pemberton intended the natural consequence of his wrongful act.”
The court also upheld the order for Pemberton to pay Laude’s family more than $90,000 compensation.
House of Congress Representative Harry Roque, who served as the Laude family’s lawyer, welcomed the court’s decision, saying: “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.”
Pemberton, an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Massachusetts, was one of thousands of American and Philippine military personnel who participated in joint exercises in the country in 2014.
He and a group of other Marines were on leave after the exercises and met Laude and her friends at one of the many bars in Olongapo, Subic Bay. At least two witnesses testified that Laude was a sex worker.
Pemberton remains in detention. Upon completion of his sentence, he will be deported and blacklisted from the Philippines.