MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) upheld on Tuesday the murder charges filed against United States Marines Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton in connection with the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in October last year.The DOJ issued on Tuesday a resolution denying the petition for review filed by Pemberton on the resolution of the City Prosecutor of Olongapo City finding probable cause to indict respondent Pemberton for the crime of murder of the victim Laude.
In a 12-page resolution issued by Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente B. Salazar, the DOJ affirmed the findings of the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office charging Pemberton with murder.
The DOJ noted that the lifeless body of Laude was discovered on Oct. 11, 2014 in the bathroom of Room No. 1, Celzone Lodge, Olongapo City.
A joint parallel investigation was thereafter conducted by complainant Philippine National Police-Olongapo City Police Office (PNP-OCPO) and the United States Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) wherein they took the voluntary sworn statements of seven witnesses.
After a judicious scrutiny of the evidence on record, the DOJ found that all the elements of murder are satisfied, thus, there is no reason to alter, modify, or reverse the resolution of the City Prosecutor of Olongapo City.
The DOJ said that the killing of Laude has been certainly established.
It added that the various pieces of evidence presented such as the CCTV footage of Ambyanz showing Mark Clarence Gelviro, Laude and Pemberton leaving the club together, the unequivocal statements of Gelviro and Elias Gallamos positively identifying Pemberton as the person who was last seen with Laude on the night he died, among others, lead to no other conclusion than that respondent Pemberton was the perpetrator of the crime.
The DOJ noted that the results of the physical examination conducted on Pemberton and Laude’s cadaver, as well as the ocular inspection of the crime scene, demonstrate the attendant qualifying circumstances of treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.
It stressed that the killing is neither parricide nor infanticide as provided under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended.
As to Pemberton’s claim of the lack of any direct evidence linking him to the crime, the DOJ ruled that “[a]bsence of direct evidence does not preclude a finding of probable cause. It has been the consistent pronouncements of the Supreme Court that, in such cases, the prosecution may resort to circumstantial evidence.”