CA affirms Pemberton's conviction for killing of Filipino transgender

The Philippine Court of Appeals has upheld a guilty verdict on a US Marine for killing a transgender woman almost three years ago, a case that stirred debate over the US military presence in its former colony.

The Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed the conviction of U.S. Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton for killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude in 2014.

The two met in a bar in October 2014 and went to a motel near a former U.S. naval base north of the capital Manila.

Pemberton, who was last person to be seen with Laude while she was still alive, was convicted for Laude's death on October 11, 2014.

It explained that the case was filed against Pemberton on December 15, 2014 or four days before Pemberton presented himself to the trial court.

But the Philippine Court of Appeals rejected the appeal on Monday, saying Pemberton's argument that he acted out of self-defence when Laude slapped him was "more imaginary than real" and "easily concocted".

He also said the court misinterpreted him when he said he had possibly killed Laude.

The trial court earlier ordered Pemberton to pay Laude's heirs P50,000 as civil indemnity; P4,320,000 as damages for loss of earning capacity; P155,250 as reimbursement for the wake, burial, and other related expenses; P50,000 as moral damages; and P30,000 as exemplary damages.

Pemberton is now detained at a facility of the Joint US Military Assistance Group (Jusmag) inside the Armed Forces of the Philippines' headquarters.

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The case had struck a nerve in the Philippines, as questions over custody of USA servicemen accused of crimes had turned into jurisdictional disputes that sparked heated debates on sovereignty.

"The [lower] courts set aside all evidence that shows that another person could have killed Laude".

The fight escalated, with Pemberton eventually choking Laude until she became unconscious.

It affirmed the lower court's sentence on Pemberton of six to 12 years imprisonment.

But his lawyer, Rowena Garcia-Flores, has said that they will now appeal the case to the Supreme Court in the Philippines.

"With the above disquisition, the conviction of Pemberton for homicide is undeniable", the court added.

The CA agreed with the trial court that Pemberton's detention at Camp Aguinaldo should be credited to his jail time.

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

Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas demanded Pemberton's immediate transfer to the national penitentiary and the full implementation of penalties in accordance with Philippine laws and judicial processes. "It's also a victory and justice for the Filipino people", Atty.

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