Filipino court upholds Joseph Scott Pemberton's conviction

Philippine Bureau of Corrections personnel escort U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Scott Pemberton at Camp Aguinaldo

THE Philippine Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the conviction of United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton for killing a transgender Filipina three years ago.

During the trial, a lower court heard that Pemberton and Laude agreed to have sex after meeting in the city's red light district, but that the drunken marine turned violent when he discovered Laude still had male genitals. "Self-defense, like alibi, is a defense which can easily be concocted, as it is in this case", the ruling penned by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison stated.

In its decision, the CA affirmed the RTC's ruling which sentenced Pemberton to a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment.

In his testimony, Pemberton admitted arm-locking Mr Laude's head after they got into a scuffle.

Pemberton's camp also argued that the Olongapo court brushed aside evidence establishing the possibility that Laude was killed by another person.

Pemberton's camp in April 2016 went to the CA to seek the reversal of the Olongapo court's decision.

Pemberton claimed that he had confronted Laude about not being a biological woman and she slapped him in response, and things escalated from there. His claim is disputed as Laude was found drowned in the shallow water of the toilet, which led to her death.

The CA said the alleged molestation couldn't be considered as unlawful aggression and there was no physical evidence suggesting Pemberton was hurt by the deceased.

From P50,000, the moral damages and civil indemnity have both been raised to P75,000.

It also affirmed the P155,250 actual damages as Laude's family was able to prove through actual receipts of damages representing autopsy, wake, and burial expenses.

"Consequently, the argument that Pemberton was not under local custody during the trial has no leg to stand on".

While the Marine was not convicted of murder, he was found guilty of the lesser crime of homicide, which does not require proof of malicious intent.

Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Henri Jean Paul Inting concurred with the ruling.

Roque stressed that Pemberton is the first member of the US Marines found guilty of violating criminal laws in the country.

He is now being detained at Camp Aguinaldo.

Following the CA's affirmation of the verdict against Pemberton, some party-list lawmakers on Monday called for his immediate transfer to the national penitentiary.

"The special treatment accorded to Pemberton since his conviction shows the disparity and injustice that agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement [VFA] and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement [EDCA] bestows upon the Filipino people", Brosas said.

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