DNA samples in Laude case do not match Pemberton’s
OLONGAPO CITY, Zambales—DNA samples taken from a detained American soldier did not match the DNA obtained from two used condoms at the motel room where transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude was found dead, the city’s chief prosecutor said Friday.
Olongapo City Prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos disclosed the results of the DNA testing at the continuation of the preliminary hearing of a murder complaint filed by Laude’s family against US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.
The soldier is detained at a facility jointly managed by the Philippine and US governments in the Armed Forces of the Philippines general headquarters in Quezon City.
De los Santos said the prosecution panel will issue a resolution on the complaint on Dec. 15. She said the panel has two weeks to study the DNA results and additional pieces of evidence.
“We have the DNA result, and it’s negative. It being negative does not mean it will affect our case. It can also mean that it can also help our case,” she said.
The condoms were among the items collected from Room 1 of Celzone Lodge, a motel where Laude and a foreigner, whom witnesses identified as Pemberton, had checked in on the night of Oct. 11. Laude was found dead after the foreigner left the room.
Autopsy reports showed Laude drowned when her head was forced into the room’s toilet bowl.
Lawyer Virgie Suarez, one of the lawyers of the Laude family, said the negative DNA result would not hurt their case, stressing that their evidence was sufficiently strong to establish probable cause that Pemberton killed Laude.
Suarez said they expected the findings.
Celzone “is a motel and a lot of its clients take turns to use the rooms, so we were really uncertain from the very start if Jennifer and Pemberton were the ones who used those condoms,” she told reporters after the hearing.
Her colleague, lawyer Romel Bagares, said a murder charge against Pemberton would stand in court even without the DNA test result.
Bagares said they have witnesses, including Laude’s friend, “Barbie,” who identified Pemberton as the foreigner who checked into the motel with Laude.
Laude’s sister, Marilou, said the family was satisfied with the pace of the preliminary hearing.
“I’m satisfied with the progress [of the] investigation, especially now that we are close to [discovering] why Pemberton killed Jennifer,” said Marilou.
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