Pemberton admits choking transgender

Bebot Sison Jr. (The Philippine Star) - August 24, 2015 - 10:00am

But had no intent to kill  

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – His sister is a lesbian and he’s not a homophobe. And he was a victim of deception by a sex worker, whom he choked in self-defense in a fit of “passion and obfuscation” but did not intend to kill.

These were the arguments presented by US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton as he took the stand yesterday at the Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in this city to defend himself in the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in October last year.

Pemberton told Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde that he had gotten drunk while on furlough in this city and had been deceived into believing that Laude and the transgender’s companion Mark Clarence “Barbie” Caguioa Gelviro were female sex workers.

A source said Gelviro, a prosecution witness in the murder case, first gave Pemberton oral sex twice. Gelviro did not mention this in his testimony.

Laude followed, but Pemberton managed to feel the transgender’s genitals. Shocked, Pemberton testified that he pushed back Laude, who slapped him, prompting the serviceman to choke the transgender.

Pemberton said he pulled the transgender to the toilet and doused him with water in an attempt to revive him. When Laude appeared lifeless, Pemberton left the transgender slumped over the toilet.

Lawyer Harry Roque, one of the private prosecutors for the Laude family, gave details of Pemberton’s testimony in a press briefing.

“Pemberton told the court he thought Laude just lost consciousness after he strangled her, which he considered an act of self-defense,” Roque told the media.

Lead defense lead lawyer Rowena Flores emailed The STAR that Pemberton’s testimony was meant to prove that the qualifying circumstances of treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty were not present in the case.

Flores said the deception by Laude and the shock of discovering that Pemberton was having sex with a man “caused passion and obfuscation” on the part of the US serviceman and “he did not intend to commit so grave a wrong.”

Pemberton, Flores said, “acted in self-defense and to protect his honor and life… and acted in immediate vindication of the wrong done to him.”

“Jennifer succeeded in committing such acts of lasciviousness by deceiving Pemberton or by fraudulent machination,” Flores emailed The STAR.

Yesterday’s testimony was meant to show that Pemberton is not liable for the death of Jennifer, Flores explained.

Roque said Laude’s mother Julita was fuming mad while Pemberton was giving his testimony.

Flores said Pemberton is an ordinary man like most men his age and has never been charged with a crime.

 The lawyer also said Pemberton has never been involved in any trouble in school or in his community. His sister is a lesbian and he gets along with gays, Flores added.

Pemberton was described in court as a victim of fraud committed by a sex worker who was seven years older than him. He was described as neither an alcoholic nor a habitual drinker, but he was drunk on the night of the killing while Laude was not.

 The US serviceman was also described to have never been involved in a physical fight until the night with Laude.

Pemberton and his Marine buddies were on liberty on Oct. 11 last year after participating in joint exercises with the Philippine military when they met Laude at the Ambyanz Night Life Bar located along Magsaysay Avenue in this city.

The two were seen checking in at the nearby Celzone Lodge where Laude was later found dead in the motel’s toilet.

The prosecution wrapped up its presentation of evidence and witnesses on June 29.

The defense began presenting its case last week by calling as its first witness Lisa Pemberton, the 44-year-old nurse and mother of the defendant.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement between the two countries, the case must be resolved within a year. – With Ric Sapnu

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