Marine Found Guilty, Will Head To Jail For Strangling Transsexual

Jonah Bennett | Contributor

Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton was just found guilty by a court in the Philippines for strangling a woman to death after finding out she was a transgender.

Pemberton will now spend between six to 12 years in prison and must pay $95,350 to Jennifer Laude’s family, The Associated Press reports. That time will likely be spent in the Philippines, as the country’s Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that U.S. military servicemembers must serve sentences for crimes in the Philippines. For now, Pemberton will be sent to the national penitentiary near Manila, owing to ambiguities in a prior agreement struck between the U.S. and the Philippines. The two countries still have to negotiate Pemberton’s final holding location.

The verdict is both a relief and disappointment to Laude’s family. Julita, Jennifer’s mother, hoped for a murder charge, which would have resulted in a much longer prison sentence instead of a homicide charge. A homicide charge does not require malicious intent.

“This is not quite a victory,” Malou, Laude’s sister, told Reuters. “We expected a murder conviction but instead got homicide. We are not contented with the decision.”

In 2014, while on break in October following a series of joint military exercises, Pemberton met Jennifer Laude at a bar in Olongapo.

Witnesses report Laude was a sex worker.

Shortly after, the two checked into a hotel room, at which point Laude gave Pemberton oral sex. Pemberton discovered Laude was actually a man, and admitted in court that he choked Laude but added it was in self-defense. Additionally, he said when he left the hotel 30 minutes after he had entered, Laude was still alive.

Police said Laude drowned in a toilet.

Activists protested the case outside the court and insisted they will watch closely to make sure Pemberton stays in a local prison.

Pemberton still has the option of filing an appeal.

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