Philippine court of appeal upholds US soldier's 10-year jail sentence in transgender killing

Activists display images of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton during a rally for Laude outside the US embassy in Manila, Philippines, on Dec 1, 2015.
Activists display images of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton during a rally for Laude outside the US embassy in Manila, Philippines, on Dec 1, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Court of Appeals has shut the door on US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton's attempt to overturn the 10-year jail sentence meted out to him by an Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) for killing transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude.

Besides upholding with finality the guilty verdict, the appellate court's former Special 16th Division sustained its order directing the US serviceman to indemnify the victim's family of 4.32 million pesos (S$114,600).

It said the arguments that Pemberton, who is being held at a special facility in Camp Aguinaldo, raised in his appeal were just a repeat of the points he had previously presented in his earlier petition.

"The bits of evidence, pieced together, point to Pemberton as the killer of Laude… Pemberton's criminal liability for homicide stands," the court said in a resolution.

"With respect to Pemberton's motion, we maintain our ruling that his invocation of self-defence is an admission of the killing and of its authorship," it said.

The American was found guilty of homicide in December 2015 for killing Laude in a drunken rage. The two met in a bar in October 2014 and went to a motel near a former US naval base north of the capital Manila.

In his testimony, Pemberton admitted arm-locking Laude's head after they got into a scuffle.

The soldier's lawyers said Laude was still breathing when Pemberton left the scene. They argued that someone else, who was after some money, might have killed Laude.