Pemberton skips murder trial; another witness ties him to Laude
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines—For the first time since his trial for the murder of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude opened on March 23, US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton was absent from court when proceedings resumed on Monday.
“The defense did not [provide] a reason for Pemberton’s absence. His lawyers said they didn’t know if the witnesses would need to identify him,” according to Virgie Suarez, one of the Laude family’s lawyers.
Suarez said Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of Regional Trial Court Branch 74 had ordered Pemberton to attend the trial on Tuesday.
Pemberton’s lawyers refused to grant interviews.
The court has barred the media from the trial. Reporters were able to talk to Suarez during breaks and after the hearing ended.
The trial featured the testimony of motel security guard Jacinto Miraflor who told the court Pemberton was the Caucasian he saw with Laude.
Miraflor, a guard at Celzone Lodge where Laude was found dead on the night of Oct. 11 last year, testified that he saw Pemberton leave the motel.
He corroborated the testimony on March 23 of Elias Gallamos, a Celzone bellboy, and Laude’s friend “Barbie” who testified on March 24.
Gallamos and Barbie “earlier established that Pemberton was the last person with Laude on the night she was killed,” Suarez said.
“Miraflor’s testimony was mainly about seeing Pemberton come out of Celzone Lodge. He said he saw the room that was left open by Pemberton and he saw Jennifer’s body being brought out by the Soco (scene of the crime operatives),” she added.
The prosecution also presented Roden Introlizo of the Soco who had made a sketch of Laude’s body after she was found in the bathroom of the room she and Pemberton had occupied, Suarez said.
Pemberton is charged with murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The court entered a “not guilty” plea for him on Feb. 23 after he refused to enter a plea.
Five more witnesses
Suarez said five more witnesses for the prosecution are expected to take the witness stand.
They include three members of Philippine Red Cross who were the first to respond when motel employees asked for assistance after they found Laude draped over the toilet bowl, she said.
The prosecution will also call to the stand the case investigator, SPO3 Tyrone Tecson, and the manager of Ambyanz Disco where Laude and Pemberton reportedly met.
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