US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, convicted for killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014, wants an early release from his special military jail in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
Pushing the convicted American criminal’s case is his Filipino lawyer, Rowena Garcia-Flores, who filed an “urgent motion” on August 1 before Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Regional Trial Court Branch 74, seeking for the immediate release of Pemberton who is said to have already served more than half of the 10 years of his sentence “with good behavior.”
It was Ginez-Jabalde who sentenced Pemberton.
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 only 26 years old at that time – 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 admitted that he killed a “he-she.”
Garcia-Flores’ motion also disputed a Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) computation of the actual jail time that Pemberton served. As per BuCor, Pemberton already served eight years and 10 months, but Garcia-Flores claimed BuCor failed to give Pemberton “good conduct time allowances” (GCTA) for over a year from October 22, 2014 to November 2015. She added that Pemberton was also not given GCTA credits for the actual time he served from October 22 to December 18 in 2014, and for June and July this year.
GCTA is provision that reduces the sentence given to prisoners for showing good behavior while serving their jail term.
The lawyer of the Laude family said they will oppose the early release of Pemberton.
Quoted by Inquirer.net, Atty. Virginia Lacsa-Suarez said: “This is the first time that ‘good conduct’ is being claimed by a US soldier, (who) is not serving his sentence at the (national penitentiary) and who is privileged and in a solitary confinement.”
Suarez added that Pemberton’s camp included in its counting the time Pemberton was temporarily held at the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu pending a police investigation of Laude’s killing. After killing Laude, the American was initially kept from local authorities; and was under special care during trial and now while serving his sentence.
“Pemberton does not deserve full credit for alleged good conduct. His conduct was never put to test as he was living comfortably in his specially made cell,” Lacsa-Suarez was quoted as saying.