DNA test: Condoms in motel not from Laude, Pemberton

MANILA, Philippines – Slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude and her alleged murderer, US Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, didn't use the condoms found in the crime scene, based on the results of a DNA test cited by the Laude family's lawyer.

Lawyer Virgie Suarez, counsel of the Laude family, however, said on Friday, November 28, that their case against Pemberton remains strong because of other pieces of evidence.

In an interview on ANC, Suarez explained that the DNA test “simply means that these two condoms are not actually used by Jennifer and by Pemberton.”

“And it has nothing to do with the murder, of course. The fact that they did not use, the fact that they did not actually have sex, has nothing to do with the fact that Jennifer was murdered,” Suarez said.

It was the Laude camp that requested the DNA test.

Suarez said she herself was “not so sure” at first if the condoms belonged to Laude and Pemberton.

“Why? Because this is a motel and there are many customers. It can happen that the earlier customer left the condoms,” she said.

Media reports quoted Olongapo Chief Prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos as saying on Friday that the DNA test on Laude conducted by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory on Pemberton was negative.

'Confident' about the case
Despite the negative results of the DNA test, Suarez said, she is “confident” about the case because of the testimonies of a witness named “Barbie” and other witnesses.

The lawyer said she is “certain” that a finding for probable cause for murder will be released by December 15. “Together with the finding of probable cause for murder, there should be a warrant of arrest,” she said.

Laude, a 26-year-old transgender woman, was found dead on October 11 in at Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City, half naked in a bathroom with strangle marks on her neck, according to police.

The cause of death was  "asphyxia by drowning," police said.

Pemberton, who had just finished participating in US-Philippine military exercises near Olongapo, had allegedly checked into the hotel with Laude and was the last person seen with her, police said. – Paterno Esmaquel II, with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com