DOJ junks Pemberton plea to dismiss case
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has affirmed the murder charge against US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton for the death of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo last October.

In a 12-page resolution released yesterday, the DOJ dismissed Pemberton’s petition seeking the reversal of findings of the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office last month that prompted the filing of the murder case against him.

With this development, the trial of the US serviceman before the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court branch 74 may proceed.

“The convergence of the foregoing circumstances all taken together leads to the fair and reasonable inference that respondent is probably guilty of killing Laude through treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty,” read the resolution signed by Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar.

Treachery “clearly attended“ the killing of Laude as evidence showed that “respondent choked him from behind,“ it added.

It also cited the physical disparity between Pemberton – a serviceman with superior strength and exceptional combat skills – and the victim as proof of the element of abuse of superior strength.

The element of cruelty was also undeniable, the DOJ said.

“The autopsy results that Laude died of asphyxia due to drowning and strangulation show that while he was still breathing, respondent drowned him by forcefully submerging his head in the water inside the toilet bowl. This grisly scenario, coupled with Laude’s other major injuries, clearly show that he suffered excessively prior to his death. Respondent opted to kill him in a manner that increased his suffering and caused him unnecessary physical pain before his death,” it pointed out.

The DOJ likewise rejected the claim of Pemberton that there was no direct evidence linking him to the killing.

“Crimes are usually committed in secret and under conditions where concealment is highly probable. If direct evidence is insisted upon under all circumstances, the guilt of vicious felons who committed heinous crimes in secret or in secluded places will be hard, if not impossible, to prove,” it said.

The DOJ also rejected the argument of Pemberton that he was denied due process when he was not given opportunity to controvert the charge against him during the preliminary investigation stage.

“The records clearly show that respondent actively participated during the preliminary investigation of the case and was ably represented by counsel. However, for reasons known only to him, he failed to file his counter-affidavit and instead chose to file several dilatory motions. Thus, the investigating panel was constrained to declare that respondent has waived his right to file his counter-affidavit,” the resolution stated.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE JEFFREY JENNIFER JOSEPH SCOTT PEMBERTON MARINE LANCE CPL OLONGAPO OLONGAPO CITY PROSECUTOR OLONGAPO CITY REGIONAL TRIAL COURT PEMBERTON UNDERSECRETARY JOSE VICENTE SALAZAR
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