On Tuesday, September 1, the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 ordered the early release of former United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.
Pemberton was charged with homicide for the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude in Subic back in 2014. Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde ordered the release of the convicted former US Marine based on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credited.
Before the hearing, Pemberton had served 2,142 days—equivalent to five years and eight months—in prison, but over 1,500 days (more than four years) from GCTA were credited to him. These numbers add up to 10 years, one month, and 10 days—which has already exceeded the maximum 10-year sentence for his case. (Read: Caritas PH Demands Truth And Justice Amid Philhealth Corruption Mess)
Many LGBTQIA+ groups, and even presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, decried the decision, with the spokesperson saying that Laude’s death was the “death of Philippine sovereignty.”
To take you on a refresher on what had transpired that day in 2014, My Pope lists the timeline of events that led up to the gruesome killing of Jennifer Laude. (Read: Three instances Pope Francis demonstrated his openness to change)
October 11, 2014
- Laude and her friend Barbie Gelviro met Pemberton at Ambyanz Disco Bar in Olongapo City. Eventually, they leave for Celzon Lodge, a motel just across the bar, and check-in.
- They were given access to room number 1, and all three of them entered together. After a while, Gelviro left the room, leaving Laude and Pemberton alone.
- After about 30 minutes, Pemberton leaves the room as well, leaving the door slightly open. The motel staff enter the room after 15 minutes, finding Laude naked in the bathroom, wrapped in a blanket and face down on the toilet.
October 15, 2014
- Laude’s sister, Malou, files murder charges against Pemberton.
October 17, 2014
- The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Regional Crime Laboratory Office confirm that Laude’s death was due to asphyxia.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) subpoenas Pemberton who was said to have still been staying at the USS Peleliu, docked at the Subic Bay Port.
December 15, 2014
- The Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office finds probable cause for charging Pemberton with murder. “Presence of treachery, cruelty, and abuse of superior strength” was stated in the findings of the court.
- Pemberton appeals the charges, but was denied.
February 23, 2015
- Pemberton goes to court and the court files a not guilty plea on his behalf.
March 16, 2015
- The trial begins. Since the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) was in effect, the court only had one year to complete the trial.
June 30, 2015
- Pemberton admits he and Laude had a fight, but denies killing her. He says he “acted in self-defense” when he found out that Laude was “a man.”
December 1, 2015
- The court finds Pemberton guilty of homicide. It was said that it did not meet the standards for murder. Pemberton was sentenced to 6 to 12 years in prison.
January 6, 2016
- Pemberton’s legal team files a motion for reconsideration, asking the court to reassess the guilty verdict.
- Another petition—to reduce the sentence—was filed if ever the guilty verdict would remain.
April 3, 2016
- The motion for reconsideration is denied by the regional trial court (RTC).
April 7, 2016
- Pemberton files an appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA).
April 10, 2016
- The CA denies Pemberton’s appeal to reverse the decision. CA says his defense was “more imaginary than real,” and that Pemberton “never thought of Laude as a human being, but as fecal matter due to her sexual orientation.”
April 26, 2017
- Pemberton files another motion for reconsideration. This was his last chance before he had to already take it to the Supreme Court.