OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, on trial here for the alleged murder of transgender Filipina Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude in October 2014, admitted he strangled her but added it was "in self defense."
Pemberton appeared at the Regional Trial Court Branch 74 as a witness for the defense on Monday, August 24.
Private lawyer for the Laude family, Harry Roque, told the media in a press briefing that Pemberton made the admission during his testimony.
Roque said Pemberton told the court Laude was performing oral sex on him when he suddenly felt a penis when he put his hand between Laude's legs.
The US serviceman said he was shocked at the discovery and pushed back Laude who fell from the bed but got up and went to him to slap him in the face.
He said he retaliated by putting his hand in Laude’s neck, choking the victim.
He said he saw Laude stopped moving and thought the victim lost consciousness because of what he did. He dragged the body to the bathroom to try to pour water to revive Laude.
He said he found no water in the bathroom so he decided to just leave Laude there.
Court sources say part of Pemberton’s testimony indicated he had oral sex twice in the room with another “woman,” one in stand up position and another lying down before he had oral sex with Laude.
Media men are not allowed to enter the court room where Pemberton's trial is being held, forcing them to rely on updates from those who are not barred from attending.
Laude's death was earlier medically found to be caused by asphyxiation due to drowing and strangulation.
Militant group Bayan believes Pemberton's admission should pave the way for his conviction.
"There is no other logical and just outcome for the trial. The Laude family deserves nothing less than full and complete justice," the group said in a statement.
"Jennifer Laude may not be the last victim of an American serviceman 'visiting' the Philippines," said the group, which opposes US military presence in the Philippines.
The group appealed anew that Pemberton be detained in a local jail.
Pemberton is currently detained at a US facility inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
Pemberton was on shore leave with some of his marine buddies from USS Peleliu after participating in the just concluded US-Philippines joint military exercises in Subic on October 11, 2014.
He met Laude at the Ambyanz Nightlife Bar along Magsaysay Avenue and they were later seen checking in together at the nearby Celzone Lodge.
Laude was found dead at the bathroom of the motel hours later.
Evidence against Pemberton
The defense is now presenting its evidence after the prosecution rested its case.
A private prosecutor present during an earlier hearing said Jessica LeCroy, a latent print examiner from the US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, testified that Pemberton’s fingerprints were present on one of 3 condoms recovered by the door of the bathroom where Laude was found dead.
Another expert witness, Derek Dorrien, testified that he had examined lubricants found in the 3 condoms and said Pemberton’s fingerprints matched those on a condom wrapper found in the motel room.
Dorrien said the lubricant matched the same substance found on Pemberton’s penile shaft as well as on Laude’s anal area.
SOCO testified that the other two condoms recovered from the room did not match Pemberton's DNA samples.
A 3rd expert witness, forensic toxicologist George Jackson, said he took blood samples from Laude. – Rappler.com