Pemberton asks DOJ to dismiss murder case
Manila, Philippines—A US Marine facing trial for the murder of a Filipino transgender woman urged the Department of Justice on Monday to dismiss the case against him.
In a petition filed with the department, the lawyer for Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton argued that prosecutors did not present enough evidence to charge him with the killing of Jennifer Laude.
The body of Laude, 26, also known as Jeffrey, was found at a motel in Olongapo City in October after she checked in with Pemberton, police said.
But the petition argued that the evidence linking Pemberton to the killing was “based on nothing but conjectures and speculations.”
“There was no evidence presented as to the details of the purported assault during the preliminary investigation other than the surmises and conjectures of the supposed witnesses and the baseless conclusions of the (Olongapo) police,” the petition argued.
The murder case against Pemberton was filed with an Olongapo City court which issued a formal arrest warrant for him last week.
However a petition to the justice department is also an option for the accused in such criminal cases.
Pemberton also wanted court hearings suspended pending a decision on his petition.
But prosecutors argued that this would delay proceedings, which under a US-Philippine agreement must be completed in a year.
In Olongapo City a lawyer for the Laude family, Harry Roque, said Pemberton’s petition was “not a basis for suspension, especially for cases like this.”
The high-profile case has inflamed anti-US sentiment in the Philippines and strains in relations between the longtime allies, which both sought custody of the suspect.
The US government has refused to hand over custody to Philippine authorities even after prosecutors charged Pemberton with murder.
He is currently under US military guard at the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
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