The Court of Appeals (CA) of the Philippines junked the plea of American serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton to reverse his homicide conviction for the death of trans woman Jennifer Laude in October 2014.
In its decision, the CA Special 16th Division tossed out Pemberton’s motion for reconsideration for lack of merit, and also ordered Pemberton to pay the heirs of Laude P4.32 million for loss of earning capacity, P30,000 for exemplary damage and P155,250 for actual damages. Pemberton shall similarly pay 6% interest per year on all civil liability from the finality of the decision until fully paid.
Pemberton was sentenced to six to 12 years imprisonment by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 74, in December 2015. He was found guilty of murdering Laude, who was found dead in a bathroom in a room in Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City on October 11, 2014. Laude – who was then 26 years old – was found with her head inside a toilet bowl. She was last seen alive with Pemberton.
When the RTC released its decision, it said that Pemberton himself admitted that he could have killed a “he-she.”
But in his his petition for review before the CA, Pemberton claimed that the RTC ignored evidence showing that a third person could be responsible for Laude’s death. He added that the lower court made a mistake in interpreting his statement when he said he thought he killed Laude as an admission of guilt, when in fact his statement is consistent with self-defense as stated under the Revised Penal Code. The soldier similarly raised the issue of self-defense saying he was molested by Laude, saying that he was only defending his dignity and self-respect.
Pemberton is currently detained in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.