It has been a year since transgender Jennifer Laude was found dead in a motel room in Olongapo city on Oct. 11, 2014. The suspect, US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, is now on murder trial in the latest criminal case involving a US military personnel in the country.
Alleged criminal activity involving US military personnel is a sensitive issue in the Philippines because of an existing Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, through which the US and Philippine military engage into joint military exercises.
Under the agreement, the Philippines has jurisdiction over those who committed crimes within the country, but the US has custody over the military official from commission of the offense until the completion of the judicial proceedings.
Laude’s murder trial is the latest incident involving crimes allegedly committed by the US military since the 2005 rape of “Nicole” by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted but eventually acquitted after the victim recanted her statement that she was raped while drunk.
Speqtrum gives a timeline on the development of the case since Laude – a daughter, transgender, woman – was found lifeless with her head shoved in a toilet bowl. The murder trial is pending. (Speqtrum will update this timeline based on new developments)
Oct. 11, 2014 – Laude was found lifeless on the motel bathroom by the hotel staff in Celzone Lodge in the evening of Oct. 11, 2014. She was initially believed to have been strangled and drowned. Witnesses point to an American who was with Laude the night before.
Oct. 12, 2014 – The suspect, Pemberton, was held in custody at the amphibious assault ship USS Pelileu.
Oct. 15, 2014 – Laude’s family filed a murder complaint before the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office against Pemberton.
Oct. 17, 2014 – The police autopsy report showed that Laude died of asphyxiation or deprivation of air by drowning. Laude also had contusions and blood clots on the scalp, chest, arms and legs, as well as cuts and bruising on her head and neck. Her body also showed a cut on her tongue, bruising around her eyes and cheekbones, and abrasions on her left forearm and right leg. Lead investigator SPO3 Tyrone Tecson in his report said the killing was a “crime of hatred” when Pemberton found out Laude was a transgender.
Oct. 22, 2014 – From the USS Pelileu, Pemberton was transferred to the Camp Aguinaldo guarded by both Philippine and US forces. Later in the afternoon, Laude’s German fiance Marc Suselbek climbed over the wire gate leading to Pemberton’s detention facility and even assaulted and shoved a Filipino soldier blocking his way. Suselbeck was eventually blacklisted and allowed for voluntary deportation due to his behavior.
Dec. 15, 2014 – The Olongapo Prosecutor’s Office found probable cause to charge Pemberton with murder. The case was raffled off to Judge Roline Ginez Jabalde of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74.
Dec. 19, 2014 – Pemberton officially submitted to the court’s jurisdiction when he appeared before the court for his booking and mugshots. He has asked to reduce his charges from murder to homicide.
Jan. 27, 2015 – The Department of Justice affirmed the filing of murder charges against Pemberton.
Feb. 23, 2015 – Pemberton refused to enter a plea in his scheduled arraignment. The court entered a not guilty plea.
Feb 27, 2015 – During the pre-trial conference, Pemberton refused to identify Laude as a woman. The court said Laude should be referred as a male because this is his gender stated in his birth certificate.
March 23, 2015 – Pemberton’s murder trial starts. Elias Gallamos, a bellboy at the Celzone Lodge, identified Pemberton as the Caucasian who was with Laude before she was found murdered.
March 24, 2015 – On the second day of Pemberton’s murder trial, Laude’s transgender friend Barbie also tagged Pemberton as Laude’s companion in the bar before the alleged murder.
April 13, 2015 – Pemberton skipped his murder trial for the first time. Another prosecution witness, janitor Jacinto Miraflor, who said he saw Pemberton leave the motel on the night Laude was believed to have been killed.
April 28, 2015 – During the hearing, Laude’s family and kin demanded at least P200 million in exemplary and moral damages from Pemberton when the civil aspect of the trial was tackled.
June 22, 2015 – An American forensic expert Jessica LeCroy testified in court that Pemberton’s fingerprints were found on one of the three condom wrappers near the bathroom door. Another forensic expert Derek Dorrien said all three condoms were coated with lubricants, and that it was the same lubricant found on Pemberton’s penile area and around Laude’s anal area.
June 30, 2015 – The prosecution rests case against Pemberton.
Aug. 24 2015 – During the testimony of the defense, Pemberton admitted that he choked Laude when he arm locked her when they were in the motel room. Pemberton said he was drunk and he did not know Laude was not a biological woman. He said he struck Laude (who fought back) when he found out Laude had a penis. When Laude was unconscious after he arm-locked her, Pemberton said he brought Laude to the bathroom to spray her with water to wake her up. Afraid of being beaten up if someone finds him with the dead Laude, Pemberton said he fled the room.