DOJ affirms filing of murder case vs Pemberton
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) upheld on Tuesday the decision of the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office that found probable cause to indict American Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton for the murder of transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.
“After a judicious scrutiny of the evidence on record, we find no reason to alter, modify or reverse the resolution of the city prosecutor of Olongapo,” the DOJ said in a 12-page resolution signed by Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar denying the petition for review filed by Pemberton.
The DOJ supported the panel of prosecutors’ findings that all the elements of murder existed in the case and were enough bases to charge Pemberton.
“A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused. In this case, the evidence presented has sufficiently established that the respondent is probably guilty of the crime of murder and should be held for trial,” the resolution said.
Lawyer Harry Roque, counsel of the Laude family, described the dismissal of Pemberton’s petition as “very good news.”
“The nation deserves to know the truth, while the victim deserves justice,” Roque said.
Asked about the possibility of Pemberton elevating the DOJ decision to the Office of the President, Roque said Pemberton might do this but the Laude camp would oppose it.
Laude was found dead on Oct. 11, 2014, in an Olongapo hotel where she and Pemberton checked in.
The Olongapo prosecutor filed the murder charge against Pemberton on Dec. 15, 2014, but Pemberton filed a petition for review.
The DOJ said pieces of evidence presented by the investigators “lead to no other conclusion than that respondent Pemberton was the perpetrator of the crime.”
Among these are closed-circuit television footage from the club showing Laude and Pemberton leaving the place, testimonies of witnesses who identified Pemberton as the last person seen with Laude, Pemberton’s prints found on a condom and testimonies of other US Marines who were with Pemberton on the night of Laude’s killing.
The DOJ also noted evidence showing Laude was choked from behind, which indicated treachery.
Another element of murder, cruelty, was also shown by autopsy results showing that while Laude was still breathing, Pemberton drowned her by forcing Laude’s head into a toilet bowl.
The DOJ dismissed Pemberton’s claim that he was not given the opportunity to dispute the evidence against him.
It said Pemberton, “for reasons known only to him, failed to file his counter-affidavit and chose to file several dilatory motions.”
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