THE Philippine Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the conviction of United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton for killing a transgender Filipina three years ago.
In a 48-page decision dated April 3, the CA’s special 16th Division affirmed the March 2015 ruling of the Olongapo City regional trial court (RTC) which found Pemberton guilty of homicide for the killing of Jennifer Laude in 2014.
“[T]he instant Appeal is denied for lack of merit and assailed [Nov. 18, 2015] Decision and the [March 29, 2016] Order of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City, Branch 72 are hereby affirmed,” the CA decision read.
Pemberton’s motion for reconsideration has been junked by the lower court, prompting him to raise his case before the CA.
In his petition, Pemberton argued that he killed Laude in self-defense after the latter allegedly molested him. He claimed that he was only defending his dignity and self-respect.
But the CA, in its ruling penned by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison, stated that “the only reason why [Pemberton] attacked Laude was that he was furious at him for pretending to be a woman, nothing more, nothing less.”
“Indeed, a plea of self-defense cannot be justifiably appreciated where it is not only uncorroborated by independent and competent evidence, but also extremely doubtful by itself,” the CA added. “Self-defense, like alibi, is a defense which can easily be concocted, as it is in this case.”
The order went on to say that Pemberton did not only level Laude unconscious, “but ensured his death by submerging his head inside the toilet bowl.” It dismissed the American’s claim that he had no intention to commit the act.
The court said this “clearly” shows that Pemberton “intended the natural consequence of his wrongful act.”
“To our mind, placing Laude’s head inside a toilet shows that Pemberton never thought of Laude as a human being, but as a fecal matter due to his sexual orientation,” the CA stressed.
In its decision, the CA affirmed the RTC’s ruling which sentenced Pemberton to a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment.
It also raised the civil indemnity and moral damages set by the RTC at P50,000 to P75,000 each.
The Laude family, meanwhile, welcomed the CA’s decision.
Their lawyer, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque, described Pemberton’s conviction as “an affirmation of Philippine sovereignty.” (AJPress)