Former Marine Joseph Pemberton goes on trial today for the murder of transgender Filipino woman Jennifer Laude. Pemberton allegedly killed Laude during a romantic encounter in a hotel room after discovering she was born a man.
Lance Corporal Joseph Pemberton, 19, reportedly had his $500,000 offer to plead guilty to the murder of transgender victim Jennifer Laude, 26, rejected by the family of the victim. Laude’s body was found inside the motel room in Olongapo City last October. The victim, also reportedly known as Jeffrey, was found inside a hotel room, naked with strangle marks on the neck. Laude had also reportedly been drowned in the toilet of the hotel room, which is in the heart of the city’s red light district.
The plea deal would have permitted the former United States Marine have the charges in what some have deemed a transgender hate crime, downgraded from murder to homicide. Such as change in charges would have also reduced Pemberton’s prison sentence to 20 years instead of four decades. The plea bargain was “angrily” rejected by Jennifer Laude’s relatives at the beginning of his murder trial earlier today.
The Marine had just finished training exercises between United States and the Philippine near Olongapo before he reportedly checked into the hotel with Jennifer Laude. A bellboy at he hotel was the first witness to testify against Pemberton.
Joseph Pemberton has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Laude. The former Marine’s attorney has made offers to settle the Jennifer Laude murder charges, but no agreements have been made, according to prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos. The government attorney was not willing to share any of the plea bargain details
Jennifer Laude’s family told the media that they had received a letter from Pemberton offering $468,000 (21 million pesos) if hey would agree to reduced murder charges. “No amount of money could pay for the years I spent raising my child,” Julita Cabillan, the mother of the transgender victim, told reporters. “What they did to my child was gruesome. Just because we are poor doesn’t mean we can’t fight for justice.”
The prosecutor also noted that a plea bargain offer could be re-introduced anytime during the trial. Attorneys representing the family of Jennifer Laude have accused the Philippines prosecutor of “promoting” a plea bargain and filed a request to have de los Santos replaced.
The murder trail of former Marine Joseph Pemberton and transgender victim have reportedly “re-ignited” anti-United States sentiments in the Philippines.
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