Forensics experts from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have determined that the DNA sample of detained American Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton does not match the samples taken from two used condoms taken from the motel room where transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude was found dead.
But Laude’s camp is not worried. In fact, Virgie Suarez, one of the Laude family’s lawyers, says they expected such findings.
“[Celzone] is a motel and a lot of its clients take turns to use the rooms, so we were really uncertain from the very start if Jennifer and Pemberton were the ones who used those condoms,” she told reporters, in reference to the motel in which the crime was committed and from which the condoms were retrieved.
Suarez emphasized that, despite the negative match on the DNA test, they had sufficient enough evidence, as well as testimonies from witnesses, to establish probable cause that Pemberton killed Laude.
At the continuation of the preliminary hearing on Friday, Olongapo City Prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos disclosed the results of the DNA test, and noted that the panel has two weeks to anlayze the DNA results, as well as other items of evidence.
Delos Santos, like Suarez, remained positive that the case against Pemeberton is strong, evn with the negative match.
“We have the DNA result, and it’s negative. It being negative does not mean it will affect our case. It can also mean that it can also help our case,” she said.
Several items, including the two condoms, were collected from Room 1 of Celzone Lodge, which was the scene of the crime. Witnesses said that Laude and a foreign serviceman identified as Pemberton checked in to the motel on the night of October 11. A few hours after the pair checked in, Pemberton casually left the motel, prompting staff to check on his companion. Hotel staff were horrified to find Laude dead in the bathroom of Room 1.
The coroner’s post-autopsy report indicated that Laude had drowned after her head was forcibly held down in the toilet.
The family of Laude filed a murder charge against Pemberton, who is currently detained in a facility set-up by the Philippine and US governments, on the grounds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines general headquarters in Quezon City.