Pemberton counsel seeks early release

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton: Charged in the Philippines with the murder of Jeffrey ‘Jennifer’ Laude, a transgender man who Pemberton seems to have killed upon finding Laude was not a ‘real woman,’ the U.S. military refuses to hand him over.
| Photo courtesy of Olongapo City Police

An urgent motion seeking the immediate release of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton has been filed before Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74.

According to Lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores, Pemberton should have been released from prison on July 31 after serving more than half of his 10-year sentence for displaying good conduct.

This came after the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) computation showed that the convicted U.S. Marine had served eight years and 10 months.

Flores pointed out that Pemberton was not given by the BuCor good conduct time allowances (GCTA) for over a year from October 22, 2014, to November 2015.

GCTA is a sentence reduction provision given to inmates who have shown good conduct during their jail sentence.

She added that GCTA credits were not given to her client for the actual time he served from Oct. 22 to December 18 in 2014, as well as for June and July this year.

Flores further stressed that releasing Pemberton beyond July 31 “would [violate] the constitutional guarantee that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law.”

Pemberton was sentenced to six to 10 years in jail by Jabalde in December 2015 for killing Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipina woman, on October 11, 2014.

He is currently detained at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Custodial Center in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The Laude’s camp, for its part, is opposing Pemberton’s early release.

“This is the first time that ‘good conduct’ is being claimed by a US soldier, [who] is not serving his sentence at the [national penitentiary] and who is privileged and in a solitary confinement,” said lawyer Virginia Lacsa-Suarez, the Laude family’s counsel.

She pointed out that Pemberton’s camp counted the time the U.S. Marine was temporarily held inside the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu while the case was being investigated.

Suarez further stressed that in order to show good conduct, a convict should interact with other convicts he is living with in the same cell.

“Pemberton does not deserve full credit for alleged good conduct. His conduct was never put to test as he was living comfortably in his specially made cell,” she said.

“Pemberton, who lives comfortably and only his liberty is restricted—cannot reasonably and justifiably claim good conduct,” she added.

Pemberton on Wednesday, Aug. 26 paid the Laude family over P4.6 million in civil damages.

He was ordered to pay the family of his victim P4.3 million for loss of earning capacity of Laude, P30,000 for exemplary damages and P50,000 each for civil indemnity and moral damages.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]

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