MANILA—US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton who was found guilty of homicide over the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude will appeal the Olongapo court’s verdict before the Court of Appeals.
“We believe that Pemberton will be acquitted eventually, if not by the Court of Appeals then by the Supreme Court,” Rowena Flores, Pemberton’s lead counsel was quoted as saying in a Philippine Star report.
Pemberton’s defense has 15 days to appeal the verdict, said Flores.
The American serviceman was indicted of murder charges but was convicted of homicide due to the failure of the prosecution to prove that there was an abuse of superior strength from Pemberton. The court also recognized that Pemberton was drunk when he committed the crime.
Flores said that the defense expected an acquittal from the court.
“If only the court based its decision solely on evidence, then it should have been an acquittal. But we feared that because of the massive pressure on this case, the judge would give in,” she said in the same report.
Flores added that the defense would prove before the CA that Judge Roline Jinez-Jabalde of Olangapo City RTC Branch 74 is guilty of grave abuse of discretion when she handed a guilty verdict to Pemberton despite reasonable doubt.
According to Flores, the court failed to identify the third DNA source found in the neck of Laude. The third DNA would have strengthened the defense’s theory that another person might have killed Laude. The defense argued that Pemberton left the motel where’s Laude was found when the latter was still breathing.
“There was opportunity for anybody within those 30 minutes after Pemberton left to go inside the room and kill Laude. There was that possibility that someone else went inside the room,” Flores said in the same report.
Flores said that the issues raised by the defense are proof that there was a reasonable doubt in the case.
Pemberton is serving a prison sentence of six to twelve years. He was also mandated by the court to pay the family of Laude of P 4.5 million for punitive damages.