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MANILA, Philippines – The suspect in the death of a transgender Filipino in Olongapo City allegedly admitted to authorities that he had done “something wrong” upon initial questioning, a local official said on Tuesday, October 14.
“He said, ‘I did something wrong,’” Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino said in an interview on DZBB, while fielding questions on the US marine suspected of murdering 26-year-old Jeffrey Laude, also known as Jennifer, in a lodging house in the city on October 11.
Paulino said, however, that the suspect – later identified by the Philippine National Police as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton – did not elaborate on his statement and invoked his right to a lawyer.
“So it ended there,” he said in Filipino.
At least two witnesses last saw Laude with an “unidentified male white foreigner” with a marine “style of hair cut” and is between 25 and 30 years old.
Paulino said that based on questioning, the suspect was narrowed down from the 4 who fit the witnesses’ description, after he made the reported admission to Philippine authorities.
The mayor also said two used condoms were recovered from the room in Celzone Lodge where Laude was found dead, and that Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) are still verifying whether these belonged to Laude and the suspect.
He said Laude died from drowning, based on the presence of water found in the lungs of the victim whose face, the official added, was swollen.
Responding to questions, the Olongapo mayor said that Laude did not have gender reassignment surgery, but had breast implants.
‘Justice for Laude’
Paulino said the family of Laude wants justice.
“That is the only thing that they want – justice,” Paulino said, when asked what the Laude family told him during his visits to Laude’s wake.
Laude was found dead on the floor of a comfort room of Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City, police said Sunday, October 12.
Paulino said that the CCTV footage showing Laude and the suspect were from a local bar that the two had gone to, and not at Celzone Lodge which he described as a “very old” place that had no CCTV cameras.
The United States on Tuesday confirmed it has taken custody of the suspect, whom it said is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
It has also put on hold the departure of American ships from Subic Bay pending the probe.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Monday that the Philippines could ask the US “to waive custody,” as critics fear another battle over custody of a US serviceman who broke Philippine law.
Del Rosario said this could be done “in the case of heinous crimes.”
The murder case comes after a Philippine court, in 2006, sentenced US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to 40 years in jail for raping a Filipina a year earlier. – Rappler.com