Pemberton refuses to enter plea in Laude slay case
MANILA, Philippines–US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton on Monday refused to enter a plea to the crime of murder for the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.
With Pemberton clamming up, Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the RTC Branch 74 entered a “not guilty” plea on his behalf, said Chief City Prosecutor Emilie Fe delos Santos.
Pemberton was charged with murder on Dec. 15 last year for the killing of Laude, whose body was found in a motel bathroom here on the night of Oct. 11.
Delos Santos said Jabalde scheduled the pretrial on Friday for the presentation of witnesses of both parties.
Lawyer Harry Roque, lead counsel of the Laude family, said Laude’s relatives wanted justice and would not enter into a settlement with Pemberton.
In a television interview, Roque said the trial proper may begin by the third week of March, with weekly hearings set every Monday and Tuesday.
Pemberton, accompanied by American security escorts, arrived in the city at 5 a.m. Monday for his 9 a.m. court appointment.
The American soldier is held at a facility jointly managed by the Philippine and US governments inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The arraignment came after the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed with finality his motion for reconsideration to reverse the DOJ’s January 27 order junking his motion questioning the basis for the filing of the murder charges against him by the Olongapo Regional Trial Court.
Pemberton challenged the findings of the city prosecutor indicting him for murder—a non-bailable offense—by filing a petition for review before the DOJ saying the case against him were based on speculation and conjectures of supposed witnesses and that the prosecution failed to present direct evidence to show how the alleged attack on Laude started and was executed.
But in a resolution issued last Friday, de Lima affirmed the Jan. 27 resolution and said that there was no basis to warrant a change or modification of the resolution.
“We reviewed the facts and the procedural backdrop of this case vis-à-vis the arguments in the motion for reconsideration and found no sufficient justification to reverse, alter or modify the resolution dated January 27, 2015,” de Lima said.
The Philippine court has one year to resolve the case according to the Visiting Forces Agreement.
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