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Prosecutor: US should provide Pemberton DNA

By: - Correspondent / @amacatunoINQ
/ 05:37 AM October 29, 2014
Photo of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton PHOTO FROM PEMBERTON FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

Photo of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton
PHOTO FROM PEMBERTON FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines—Chief City Prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos expressed confidence on Monday that the United States would provide DNA samples from the American soldier suspected of killing transgender Filipino woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.

“The presence of US authorities during the preliminary hearing signals that they will cooperate,” De los Santos said, referring to Cmdr. Timothy Stone of the US Navy regional legal service who attended Monday’s proceedings.

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The DNA samples and fingerprints of US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton are important, the prosecutor said, to establish his presence in the motel room in Olongapo City where Laude was found dead on the night of Oct. 11.

Witnesses said Pemberton and Laude came from Ambyanz disco bar on Magsaysay Drive here and then checked into Celzone Lodge across the street.

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Pemberton’s lawyers, however, have opposed a motion filed last week by the Laude family lawyers seeking the soldier’s DNA samples and fingerprints.

Pemberton did not attend the preliminary hearing called by the prosecutor’s office on Oct. 21 and Oct. 27. He was represented by his lawyers, Rowena Flores and Benjamin Tolosa Jr.

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The motion filed by lawyers of the Laude family on Oct. 22 said the police had failed to accomplish basic investigative procedures “because the alleged perpetrator has been placed beyond the reach of … investigators, despite promises by US authorities of full cooperation in the investigation relative to [Laude’s] death.”

The lawyers decried that Pemberton had yet to undergo standard police booking procedures.

“Important physical evidence need to be gathered for DNA testing to determine whether there is in fact, such evidence to establish ‘at the very least’ [Pemberton’s] presence in the scene of the crime,” the lawyer said.

De los Santos agreed. “It‘s logical to grant the motion to subject Pemberton to these tests,” she told reporters.

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Once the motion is granted, De los Santos said she would direct personnel from the Philippine National Police’s Crime Laboratory to conduct the sampling “based on the rules of evidence and chain of custody.”

Police investigators have yet to complete testing the physical evidence obtained from Laude’s body and the motel room, she said.

The chief prosecutor has set for Nov. 5 the inspection of Celzone Lodge and Ambyanz disco bar, the areas where Pemberton and Laude were last seen together.

“If ever Pemberton’s fingerprints match those found in the motel room, it doesn’t mean he was the one who killed the victim. It’s a motel and a lot of people may have gone to that room,”De los Santos said.

In the motion, the Laude family lawyers said taking an oral swab from Pemberton was needed to gather the reference sample to establish a DNA match.

“This procedure does not violate [Pemberton’s] right against self-incrimination … The rule is that the right against self-incrimination may be invoked only against compulsory oral examination of a suspect in an investigation,” the motion said.

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TAGS: DNA samples, Emilie Fe de los Santos, Jeffrey Laude, Jennifer Laude, Joseph Scott Pemberton, Philippines, preliminary investigation, prosecutor, transgender killing, US
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