Pemberton, Laude kin face off in Olongapo court
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines—US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton arrived at the Olongapo City Hall of Justice here on Friday morning, escorted by American and Filipino security forces, for his arraignment over the murder charge filed by the family of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.
The convoy that carried Pemberton to the court building arrived at 5 a.m. under tight security around the premises where he was scheduled to face Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Regional Trial Court Branch 74.
A source at Camp Aguinaldo said Pemberton’s convoy left Camp Aguinaldo by land at about 2 a.m on Friday.
Officials from the US Naval Forces and the US Embassy in Manila started arriving minutes after Pemberton’s convoy entered the Hall of Justice compound.
Laude’s sister, Marilou, arrived at the court at 8:30 a.m., accompanied by lawyer Virgie Suarez, one of the counsels of the Laude family.
Reporters were barred from covering the proceedings. All doors and entrances leading to the courtroom had been blocked.
At least 20 policemen had been stationed at the doors and along corridors leading to Jabalde’s sala while about 100 policemen secured the Justice Hall compound.
Lawyer John Aquino, clerk of court, spoke to reporters as the arraignment began at 8:30 a.m., saying reporters will be briefed of the proceedings after Pemberton’s appearance in court.
Suarez said the Laude family was thankful that they will finally see Pemberton, the foreigner who witnesses identified as Laude’s companion when they checked into the Celzone Lodge here on Oct. 11.
Laude was found dead after Pemberton left the motel room.
Suarez insisted that Pemberton, who is detained in a facility jointly managed by the Philippine and American governments in the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Metro Manila, should be detained in the Olongapo City jail, noting that the crime was committed in this city.