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CA affirms Pemberton conviction

The Court of Appeals has affirmed the 10-year prison term for homicide imposed by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court on United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton for the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude on October 11, 2014.

“As proven by the prosecution, Pemberton did not leave Laude merely unconscious, but ensured his death by submerging his head inside the toilet bowl. Clearly, Pemberton intended the natural consequence of his wrongful act,” the CA said in a decision written by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison.

The CA upheld the RTC’s findings that Laude died due to asphyxia by drowning. “Pemberton unabashedly plunged Laude’s head in the toilet for the puerile reason that Laude pretended to be a woman. 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 said.

Aside from the prison term, the CA also affirmed the trial court’s award of P4.3 million for loss of earning capacity, exemplary damages of P30,000, and the actual damages of P155,250 for autopsy, wake, and burial expenses.

But the CA increased the civil indemnity to P150,000.

With the ruling, the CA denied the petition filed by Pemberton who claimed self-defense in killing Laude inside the Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City.

In his petition, Pemberton told the CA that the RTC committed a mistake in convicting him despite the testimony of Dr. Raquel Fortun, a forensic expert, that Laude did not die by drowning.

He said that a third person could be responsible for Laude’s death. Pemberton claimed he was molested by Laude who pretended to be woman and he acted in self-defense to protect his dignity and self-respect. (Rey G. Panaligan)