Laude family says 60-day suspension of Pemberton trial to undermine case | Global News
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Laude family says 60-day suspension of Pemberton trial to undermine case

By: - Correspondent / @amacatunoINQ
/ 06:20 PM December 24, 2014

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines—The family of slain transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude is protesting an Olongapo court ruling that suspended the murder trial of a US Marine serviceman accused of killing her in a motel here in October.

Speaking on behalf of the Laudes, lawyer Harry Roque, the family lead counsel, said the government could not afford the 60-day suspension of the trial ordered late Tuesday by Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Regional Trial Court Branch 74 “since we only have one year to resolve the murder case as prescribed by the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

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Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude. INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON PHOTO

Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude. INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON PHOTO

Jabalde’s order addressed a petition filed by US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, who asked for a review of the murder charge.

Pemberton’s lawyers said the Olongapo prosecutor’s office “gravely erred in finding probable cause” for murder, claiming there was a “complete absence of the elements [of murder].”

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They said the government’s only pieces of evidence that implicated the soldier were the statements of Laude’s friend, another transgender woman named “Barbie,” and a motel employee.

These witnesses identified Pemberton as the Caucasian man who checked into the motel with Laude shortly before she was found dead inside the room’s bathroom, according to records.

“However, no one witnessed the alleged commission of the crime,” said Pemberton’s lawyers.

They said the government’s murder charge was “based on nothing more than speculations, conjectures and inadmissible evidence.”

Jabalde issued the resolution after office hours on Tuesday. The courts were open only until noon to allow employees to travel for the Christmas holiday.

Jabalde also denied the petitions filed by Laude’s family seeking Pemberton’s transfer to the city jail here as well as the court permission for media to cover the trial.

The Laude family would ask the court to reconsider all three rulings, Roque said, adding that his client was alarmed by Jabalde’s ruling suspending the trial.

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“I was surprised by the order, especially because we have already filed a manifestation for Jabalde to inhibit from hearing the case,” Roque said.

“I am particularly alarmed by the decision to suspend the proceedings,” he said, because it meant the loss of two months to finish the trial. “We only have nine and a half months to finish [the trial] and this will include the US government producing the three US Marines who are the defense witnesses,” he said.

“We will file a motion for reconsideration [before Jan. 6] since we will be the one to comment on the petition for review that Pemberton’s lawyers filed in the Department of Justice,” he said.

Roque said the family has been preparing to elevate Pemberton’s custody issue to the Supreme Court, following Jabalde’s ruling. “I think it’s important that we have an interpretation of the high court on the issue while the trial is pending,” he said.

He said he was “most disappointed” with the court order not to allow media coverage of the hearings, arguing that it “blatantly violates the freedom of the press and the right of the people to know.”

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TAGS: courts, Crime, Global Nation, Harry Roque, Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, Joseph Scott Pemberton, Justice, killing of a transgender woman, Law, litigation, murder, Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74, Protest, Roline Ginez-Jabalde, suspension of court proceedings, trial court judges, trial suspension, trials, us soldiers, Visiting Forces Agreement
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