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Laude camp wants P38 M, 6 US visas – defense lawyer

Virgie Suarez, one of the private counsels of the Laude family, said the payment is for the actual, moral, and exemplary damages that Jennifer's sister Marilou had declared. Philstar.com/File

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines  – The camp of United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who is charged with the murder of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in October last year, claimed that the complainants have issued new demands that include six US visas and P38 million in exchange for dropping the case.

Defense counsel Rowena Flores said that the information was relayed to her by a reliable source.

Flores said the new amount being asked was separate from the P21.6 million initially asked by Laude’s lawyer Virgie Suarez, who sent the computation in her own handwriting. The latter said that they changed their mind and are now asking for P200 million in damages.

Suarez, one of the private counsels of the Laude family, said the payment is for the actual, moral, and exemplary damages that Laude’s sister Marilou had declared.

“The P21 million was an initial computation of damages made,” Suarez told The STAR.

She, however, added that Laude’s mother Julita refused to demand payment for damages as no amount could compensate for her suffering.

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Suarez also said “there is no truth to the alleged demand for US visas.“

She said Marilou had clarified that they are not asking for US visas.

“Marilou clarified that before the court and during a press conference after her testimony,” Suarez said.

The defense team has started presenting its evidences and witnesses starting with Lisa Pemberton, the mother of the accused, who stood as a character witness for her son.

This was followed by Pemberton himself who admitted during testimony at the Regional Trial Court presided by Judge Roline Ginez Jabalde, that he did choke Laude in the motel room as an act of self-defense.

Flores said Pemberton’s testimony was meant to prove that the qualifying circumstances of treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty were not present in the murder case.

Dr. Rachel Fortun, a pathologist and professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, on the other hand, downplayed claims by prosecution witnesses that Laude died of asphyxia by drowning.

Fortun based her testimony on reports and pictures from the case.

Prosecution lawyers are also opposing moves by defense lawyers to downgrade the charges from murder to homicide.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Pemberton’s admission in court has bolstered the case of the prosecution and they will target Pemberton’s conviction for murder and nothing less.

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