Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, the 21-year-old U.S. Marine charged with killing a transgender Filipina woman he met at a bar while deployed near Manila, was finally convicted of homicide in a Philippines court today.
Pemberton claimed through testimony that he received oral sex from the woman, 26-year-old Jennifer Laude, and killed her in a rage after learning she was transgender a short time later. He’ll spend 6-12 years in a Philippines jail for the crime.
Laude’s mother Julita said she was “happy the verdict detailed everything that had transpired” that night but wished Pemberton had been convicted of the higher offense of murder to get more serious jail time, the New York Daily News reports.
“The important thing is he will be jailed,” she said. “My son’s life is not wasted.”
During trial, Pemberton detailed how he met Laude in October 2014 while bar hopping with a group of friends, later taking her and another woman to a nearby hotel for sex. Pemberton learned the women were transgender when the friend left the room to buy condoms, and then lashed out at Laude, strangling her before drowning her in a toilet bowl.
Pemberton justified killing Laude by claiming he used self defense, insisting he feared he was going to be raped.
(Jennifer Laude with her fiance Mark Sueselbeck)
The prosecution and defense teams argued over whether Laude had been immediately killed by Pemberton or whether she died after he left, mitigating circumstances that determine the different between homicide and murder.
Pemberton’s 6-12 year sentence is low, considering he was facing up to 40 years in prison if convicted of murder. For homicide, he could have faced up to 20 years in prison.
Pemberton has been in U.S. Marine custody in a Philippines jail since he was accused in 2014, and his sentence will be credited with the year he’s already served.