CA upholds guilty verdict on Pemberton
A US Marine jailed for killing a transgender woman in a Philippines motel after discovering she had male genitals has had his conviction upheld.
The Court of Appeals' decision to uphold a lower court's conviction of the United States Marine found guilty of killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City in 2014 will not alter the U.S. government's respect for the rule of law and its commitment to abide by the provisions stipulated in its bilateral visiting forces agreement with the Philippines.
Pemberton met Laude at the Ambyanz Disco in Olongapo City on October 11, 2014, following which they checked into a local motel. They argued that someone else, who was after some money, might have killed Mr Laude.
Aggrieved, Pemberton then raised his argument to the appellate court.
Joseph Scott Pemberton in jail for the murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipino woman, and ordered him to pay her heirs more than $90,000 in compensation.
But the CA, in its ruling penned by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison, stated that "the only reason why [Pemberton] attacked Laude was that he was furious at him for pretending to be a woman, nothing more, nothing less".
On Monday, the Court of Appeals increased the civil indemnity and moral damages to be paid to Laude's family.
He is now being detained at Camp Aguinaldo.
The case had struck a nerve in the Philippines, as questions over custody of United States servicemen accused of crimes had turned into jurisdictional disputes that sparked heated debates on sovereignty.
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"The (lower) courts set aside all evidence that shows that another person could have killed Laude".
CA also ordered Pemberton to pay Laude's family P75,000 as civil indemnity and P75,000 as moral damages.
The CA also agreed with the regional trial court that Pemberton's time under detention in Camp Aquinaldo should be credited as time served.
It added the trial court correctly ruled that Pemberton should be sentenced to suffer the indeterminate sentence of six years of prision correccional as minimum and 10 years of prision mayor as maximum in light of "two mitigating circumstances which effectively reduced the penalty prescribed by Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code (reclusion temporal) by one degree".
The American's lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores said that Pemberton's camp would elevate the case to the Supreme Court.
Pemberton said the trial court erred in its conviction, citing the testimony of forensic expert Raquel Fortun.
Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Henri Jean Paul Inting concurred with the ruling.
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.
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