Joseph Scott Pemberton is due to be released after being sentenced to ten years in prison for less than six years for the murder of Jennifer Laude.
Posted on Sep 7, 2020 at 4:15 pm ET
Aaron Favila / AP
Protesters hold slogans in front of the Olongapo City Courts.
A U.S. Marine convicted of the murder of a transgender woman in the Philippines in 2014 was pardoned by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday.
The pardon came five years after Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton admitted to suffocating Jennifer Laude in a hotel room after paying her to have sex and finding out she was transgender.
Pemberton had served less than six years of a ten-year prison sentence for murder.
The decision to release and apologize for him was confirmed on Twitter by the Secretary of State of the Philippines, Teddy Locsin Jr.
The President granted Pemberton an absolute pardon because the time he was incarcerated was not under the prisoner’s control – and to bring justice. Here in the palace.
08:51 – 07 September 2020
However, Duterte’s decision was quickly criticized by LGBTQ organizations in the Philippines, who described the convicted murderer’s pardon as a direct attack on the country’s trans community.
“President Duterte’s Pemberton pardon sends a loud and clear message that the life of a Filipino trans woman does not matter, that it is an open season for discrimination and violence against transgender people, and that American soldiers will continue to get away with murder on Filipino soil.” Read a statement signed by more than 30 organizations on Monday. “His government has neither served our interests nor protected our rights and our lives and is proving today that only one murderer can empathize with another murderer.”
Chel Diokno, a human rights lawyer and chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, described the pardon as “a major step backwards for justice in this case and in our country”.
Virginia Suarez, a lawyer for Laude’s family, described the decision as a “travesty of Philippine sovereignty and democracy”.
Pag sa Pilipino bitay ang gusto, pero pag kay Pemberton absolute pardon? This pardon is an affront to the suffering of Jennifer Laude and her family and rewards criminal behavior. This is a big step backwards for justice in this case and in our country. #JusticeForJenniferLaude https://t.co/yrJfO0jaOA
11:43 am – 7th September 2020
Pemberton had testified that he was on a recovery day in October 2014, shopping and bar hoping. He met Laude in a bar and agreed to pay her for sex in a nearby hotel.
After performing oral sex on Pemberton, Laude testified that he found out she was transgender and pushed her off the bed. Laude allegedly beat him and Pemberton choked her until she passed out. He said she was alive when he left the room.
One of his lawyers said during the trial that Pemberton “felt he was being raped” because he was “so disgusted and disgusted for not giving consent to allow a man to do this to him”.
In conviction, the judge ruled that Pemberton’s allegation that he was threatened could not be used as a defense, stating, “There is no unlawful aggression to justify this [Pemberton] to defend his honor. “
Pemberton was slated for early release last week for good behavior, the BBC reported, but his release was halted after lawyers for Laude’s family appealed.
The appeal is now null because of the presidential pardon.
It was not immediately clear when Pemberton would be released from prison and return to the United States.