Who is Joseph Scott Pemberton? US marine who killed transgender woman Jennifer Laude in Philippines is pardoned
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has granted absolute pardon to Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, a United States Marine guilty of killing Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, in 2014, clearing the legal barrier for his early release on Monday, September 7. The news was confirmed in a tweet by Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, who wrote, “Cutting matters short over what constitutes time served, and since where he was detained was not in the prisoner’s control—and to do justice—the President has granted an absolute pardon to Pemberton. Here at the Palace.”
Cutting matters short over what constitutes time served, and since where he was detained was not in the prisoner’s control—and to do justice—the President has granted an absolute pardon to Pemberton. Here at the Palace.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) September 7, 2020
President Rodrigo Duterte defended his decision in a public address mentioning that Pemberton "should be allowed the good character presumption," because he had behaved well behind bars. "If there is a time when you are called upon to be fair, be fair," Duterte said.
However, in a statement issued on behalf of the victim's family, lawyer Virginia Lacsa Suarez called Duterte's decision to pardon the American Marine as "revolting!" "We strongly denounce the ABSOLUTE PARDON given by Duterte. This is another injustice not only to Jennifer Laude and family, but a grave injustice to the Filipino people," Suarez said, calling the decision "another hallmark of Philippine's subservience to the US" and a reflection of "the systematic discrimination and violence inflicted by US. to Filipino women, children and the LGBTQ community."
In 2015, Pemberton was convicted of homicide for killing a 26-year-old Laude at a motel in Philippine city of Olongapo, which is located near a former US naval base north of Manila as per Vice News. On August 24, the Philippine Supreme Court said it closed Pemberton’s case after his petition to withdraw an appeal of his conviction was granted as reported by Vice.
Further, on September 2, a lower court granted Pemberton’s partial motion of reconsideration after ruling that he had already served his maximum jail sentence of 10 years due to his Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), a procedure that reduces the sentence of the accused on pretext of good behavior. However, slain transgender woman Laude’s family challenged his early release order by court arguing that there has been no proof of him showing “good behavior, conduct and participation in any of the rehabilitation activities.”
The lawyer of the family retorted that some crucial steps were not considered in the computation allowing his early release. "What was considered was the computation made by Pemberton, that is another clear injustice... [The court should] order Pemberton to continue serving his sentence because (of) lack of material basis for the application of GCTA law " she quoted as reported by CNN.
Joseph Scott Pemberton
Pemberton was a marine personnel and became infamous after the 2014 killing of Jennifer Laude. He was an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and participated in US-Philippine joint exercises in 2014. He, at the age of 19 and his group of other mariners were on leave after the exercises and met Laude, 26, and her friends at a bar in Olongapo, a city popular for its nightlife, outside Subic Bay, a former US navy base. As per The Guardian, Laude was later found dead in the motel room where witnesses said she and Pemberton had checked in. BBC further elaborated that Laude was found dead, slumped over the toilet, apparently strangled as per the assertions of police.
In a startling revelation, a witness told investigators that Pemberton had choked Laude after knowing that she was transgender as reported by The Guardian. Further, this was substantiated when Pemberton testified in court that he had attacked Laude after he realized she was transgender. However, he claimed that she was still alive when he left the room, reported BBC. In 2015, Pemberton was sentenced to a term of six-12 years for homicide, which was later shortened to 10 years. As per NPR, the prosecutors sought for a more serious charge of murder but the judge at the time downgraded the charge as the lament of "treachery" had not been proved.