US marine to face murder charges for death of transgender woman in the Philippines

Manila, Philippines—Prosecutors in the Philippines are calling for the indictment of United States marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, 19, for the murder of 26-year-old Jennifer Laude, once named Jeffrey, a Filipino transgender woman last October.

Pemberton is currently being held in joint Phillipines-US custody and is guarded by American and Filipino troops on a military base in Manila, the capital and chief port of the Philippines.

Three fellow marine eyewitnesses stated that Pemberton met Laude in a night club in Olangapo City after finishing military exercises on Oct. 11. He was later seen checking into the Celzone Lodge Hotel with her, where Laude was found undressed and with a broken neck in the room’s bathroom.

According to the police biopsy, she died from “asphyxia by drowning.”

Marine Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose told prosecutors that Pemberton later admitted that, after discovering she was a transgender woman, he strangled her until she stopped moving and dragged her into the hotel room’s bathroom. Pemberton claimed that he was not aware that she was transgender until they had entered the room.

Olangapo City prosecutors are asking that Pemberton be charged with murder, not homicide, and described the crime as “aggravated treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”

If charged with murder, Pemberton can face up to 40 years of jail time. He has urged the prosecution to rule on it as a homicide, a crime which can be punished with no more than 20 years of detainment in federal prison.

The court that has jurisdiction over this case has yet to come to a decision as to whether there is enough evidence for Pemberton to stand trial.

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