MANILA — The camp of the slain Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude dismissed claims that they were willing to drop the murder case in exchange of an out-of-court settlement of P38 million and six United States visas from the camp of the suspect Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton.
In an interview with CNN, Roque said, “I am really surprised [of] the PR twists recently, which says that apparently we asked for [at least] P36 million and for six visas,”
Roque added that it is legally impossible to ask for a settlement at this point as both the defense and the prosecution have “rested [their] evidences.” Settlements for a heinous crime like murder can only happen during the plea bargain, which is part of the pretrial.
According to Laude family’s legal counsel Atty. Harry Roque, the P200 million in actual, moral and exemplary damages previously asked from the defendant was not meant to be settled before the suspect is pronounced guilty by the Regional Trial Court.
The lawyer also explained the difference of the current case with the 2005 Subic rape case, where U.S. serviceman Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was convicted of raping a Filipina named “Nicole” inside a van. “Imposible po ‘yang prosesong ‘yan dahil ito pong murder hindi po gaya ito ng rape nung kaso ni Nicole na kahit kailan ay puwede naman talagang magkaroon ng aregluhan,” he said.
Roque, however, admitted that the tactic used in “Nicole’s” case could be also at work in Laude’s case. “I think this information of P million and six visas is preparatory to individuals approaching our clients, which is similar to what happened to Nicole.” But he warned the Pemberton camp that he will not flinch on filing a disbarment case against them on the ground of ethics, proven that they are approaching the Laude family.
Pemberton testified last month that he punched and choked the victim as self-defense after discovering that she was not biologically female and that she still had male genitalia. Forensics expert Raquel Fortun said the victim died of asphyxia due to pressure on the neck.