Filing of charges vs US Marine may take weeks

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – It will take at least two to 3 weeks before charges can be filed against the US Marine suspected of killing a transgender Filipino over the weekend. 

It all depends on when the autopsy reports on the body of 26-year-old Jeffrey Laude will be released.

Laude - who goes by the name Jennifer - was found dead in the comfort room of Celzone Lodge in this city on Saturday, October 11.

On Tuesday, October 14, Olongapo police identified the US Marine as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.

Police said the two witnesses positively identified Pemberton through a photo lineup in coordination with the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service. 

But before charges can be filed against him, the police must complete all documents – including a report from crime scene operatives. The entire process may take anywhere from two to 3 weeks, according to police Chief Inspector Gil Arizo Domingo of the city's police station 3.

Initial investigation showed that Laude met the foreigner at Ambyanz disco bar located along Magsaysay drive East Tapinac in Olongapo City. After the meeting, witness Mark Clarence Gelviro, who accompanied Laude to check in at the Celzone Lodge, said he was asked by Laude  to leave the room.

The crime was reported to the police by the lodge's cashier, 24-year-old Elias Galamos, who said that he found a dead body in Room No. 1 of the lodge.

Galamos told the police that he was about to clean the room when he saw a sandal near the toilet and thought a guest was still inside. He left the room and returned a few minutes later. This time he checked the toilet, and that's when he saw Laude's body with “his head leaning in the mouth of the toilet bowl, naked and his lower body partially covered with blanket," according to a police report.

The US Embassy earlier vowed they would work closely with the Philippine National Police in the investigation.

The US Marine is currently in the custody of the United States. However, the Philippine government said it will seek custody of the American soldier.

Malacañang also vowed there would be no whitewash in the probe. - with reports from Randy Datu/Rappler.com