OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, the United States Marine convicted of homicide for the death of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude (legal name Jeffrey Laude), lost his appeal, but has nevertheless gotten a shorter jail term.
In a ruling on March 29, Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 Presiding Pudge Roline Ginez Jabalde affirmed the decision to convict Pemberton.
His appeal for bail was also denied.
His jail term, however, was reduced from 12 years to 10 years.
“Wherefore in view of the foregoing, the Partial Motion for Reconsideration of the decision promulgated on 01 December 2015 and the Motion to be Admitted Bail pending motion for reconsideration are DENIED for lack of merit,” the dispositive portion of RTC Branch 74’s decision reads.
Pemberton’s lawyers filed an appeal last January to reverse his conviction.
Lawyer Harry Roque, private lawyer for the Laude family, said, “We are happy that Pemberton’s Motion for Reconsideration was not fully granted, and we are happy that the decision remains – that Pemberton is guilty of killing Laude.”
The family of the victim, however, was not pleased withth lighter penalty that the US soldier was given, Roque said.
“We hope this will inspire a review of the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement,” he said in his personal blog.
“We hope that this development will inspire. We stress that the lighter penalty of 6-10 years imprisonment still disqualifies Pemberton from seeking early release through parole,” Roque said.
The court said the prosecutors presented enough evidence to show no other person could have killed Laude except Pemberton.
Much weight were given on eye witness testimony that Pemberton was the last person seen with Laude before the latter was found dead in the toilet of the motel located along Magsaysay Avenue in this city on October 11, 2014.
The court had earlier given a guilty verdict against Pemberton, but reduced the charge from murder to homicide and sentenced him 6 years to a maximum of 12 years in prison.
The 20-year-old US Marine met Laude at a bar here on October 11, 2014, while he was participating in the joint military exercise between the Philippines and the US
In their appeal, Pembeton’s lawyers argued that the court failed to appreciate evidence, showing another person killed Laude after Pemberton had left Laude in the motel room.
The lawyers also asked the court to clarify his sentence. They said the maximum sentence should only be 10 years, considering the mitigating circumstances in their client’s case.
The court also said that since Pemberton had already been convicted, he can no longer be presumed innocent and has lost his right to bail. – Rappler.com
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