Murder case vs Pemberton at risk of being downgraded to homicide
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – "Very vital evidence" in the murder case against United States Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton was not admitted by the local Philippine court trying him, Olongapo City prosecutor Emilie Fe Delos Santos said on Monday, August 3.
Explaining the impact of the evidence not admitted, Delos Santos said: "Kasi this is murder (Because this is murder). Non-admission of some evidence also affects if it will slide down to homicide."
"Pero pag-aaralan pa 'yun (But that will be under study)," she quickly added in a chance interview.
The court order on the prosecution's formal offer of evidence is not yet final given a pending appeal.
Delos Santos heads the prosecution team in the trial against the US Marine over the alleged murder of transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude.
The court resolution did not admit evidence pertaining to the testimony and report of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) head resident agent, she said.
Pemberton was the last person seen with Laude prior to her death last October 11. Laude's lifeless body was found slumped on the toilet of a cheap Olongapo City hotel, where a witness identified him to have checked in with her.
A court document shows that other pieces of evidence not admitted include the results of canvassing efforts in the hotel and the clothes worn by Pemberton and other US Marines on the night of Laude's death, among others.
The admissibility of a condom wrapper and latent print results was deferred.
De Los Santos said some of the evidence not admitted also explains the "injuries sustained" by Laude and what she went through during the ordeal that resulted to her death. Others pertain to "damages" to the state.
Strength of murder case
Sought for further clarification, Delos Santos said it is wrong to argue this early whether or not the murder case could stand given the exclusion of evidence.
Asked if she is confident on the strength of the murder case even in the event the court resolution is affirmed, she explained that, given court processes, there's still a long way to go to be able to reasonably assess this.
"Yung hindi (The ones that are not) admissible, there is a need for rebuttal," she explained.
Still on schedule
Delos Santos is confident the trial will not exceed the one-year prescription under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States (US).
"As of now, we are still on schedule," she said.
The lead public prosecutor said the US is expected to cooperate in the case under the VFA.
"That means bring in the evidence presented, transport the people or the Marines we need, their forensics experts. We have done that," she said.
Monday's scheduled hearing was cancelled. (READ: US soldier's turn to present evidence on Laude murder trial)
The judge will first resolve the prosecution's motion for reconsideration on the pieces of evidence the court had not admitted. – Rappler.com