U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton has been found guilty of killing a transgender Filipino. Lance Corporal Pemberton was accused of killing the individual last year in the Philippines after meeting the victim and going to a hotel together about 30 minutes later. The Marine only later discovered his companion was a transgender woman.
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The United States Marine was in the Philippines to participate in joint military exercises held in the country. Lance Corporal Joseph Pemberton was convicted on homicide charges for the strangulation of Jennifer Laude, MSN reports. Pemberton reportedly murdered Laude and then dunked her head in a hotel toilet bowl.
The two met at a disco bar in Olongapo, a town northwest of Manila.
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Pemberton was sentenced to spend a minimum of six and no more than 12 years in jail for the murder of Jennifer Laude. The U.S. Marine was given credit for time already served. He has been held at a military camp in the Philippines for the past year. Pemberton was ordered to pay the family of Jennifer Laude 4.6 million pesos — about $98,000 — in damages.
Julita, the mother of the transgender Filipino, said that although she was happy with the verdict, she had hoped the U.S. Marine would have been found guilty on the more serious charge of murder and receive a longer prison sentence, the New York Post reports.
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“But the important thing is he will be jailed,” the mother of the victim added. “My son’s life is not wasted.”
Harry Roque, an attorney for the Laude family, called the U.S. Marine verdict a “bittersweet victory” because Pemberton was not found guilty of murder.
“If what he did isn’t cruelty, I don’t know what is,” the attorney added.
Witnesses who testified in the case said that the U.S. Marine dragged the transgender Filipino to the hotel toilet and then dunked Laude’s head into the bowl.
The two witnesses also said that Pemberton said, “I think I killed a he/she.”
The killing sparked intense protests in the Philippines and enraged nationalist groups who had been calling for an end to the presence of the United States Military in the country. Protesters shouted “Justice for Jennifer” as they took to the streets with signs near the Philippine courthouse. The Philippines was an American colony until 1946.
Lance Corporal Joseph Pemberton was an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was reportedly in Olongapo, a town known for its lively nightlife, with friends the night he met Jennifer Laude. The city is located outside Subic Bay, a former U.S. Navy base. Several of the witnesses at the trial testified that the transgender Filipino was a prostitute.
After the killing, Pemberton reportedly walked out of the hotel room and left the door ajar. The U.S. Marine testified that he had choked Laude after the two got into a fight following the transgender discovery. He said Laude was still alive and in the shower when he left the room.
Pemberton will serve out his prison sentence in the Philippines.
In 2009, the high court in the country ruled that convicted U.S. military personnel must be confined within the nation when convicted of crimes. During his detainment since the charges were levied, the Lance Corporal was held at the Philippine military headquarters and was guarded by his fellow Marines with an “outer ring” of Filipino forces guards.
[Photo by Aaron Favila/AP Photo]