OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – The defense and prosecution in the murder case involving a United States Marine went through the procedural plea bargaining on Tuesday, March 10, but the family of the victim reiterated they just want to see the killer go to jail.
“Plea bargaining is just part of the legal process that we have to go through but we in the prosecution did not ask for anything nor was something offered by the Pemberton camp,” said Virgie Suarez, lawyer for the family of slain transgender Filipina Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude.
In a media briefing after the second pre-trial conference at a local court here, Julita Laude, the victim’s mother, said their family only wants one thing in exchange for Jennifer's death – that is, to see Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton behind bars.
“The only justice we want for the death of Jennifer is for his killer to go to jail,” Julita told the media.
Suarez said lawyers for both parties have agreed to continue with the plea bargaining talk on March 23, the start of the trial.
Pemberton was present pre-trial on Tuesday despite the judge granting his motion to let his lawyer represent him in court for the duration of the trial except in instances his presence is needed.
Pemberton, 19, was an active US marine who was a participant in the RP-US Balikatan military exercises held last year.
On the night of October 11, 2014, while on shore leave, Pemberton met Jennifer at the Ambyanz Disco Bar located along Magsaysay Avenue in this city. The two later checked in at the Celzone Lodge nearby.
He was accused of murder after Jennifer was found dead in the room of the hotel after he left.
Pemberton refused to enter any plea during arraignment and elevated his case before the Court of Appeals to reduce the charge to homicide.
During the February 27 pre-trial conference, 936 documents were marked as documentary evidence and exhibits by the prosecution, with 12 more additional exhibits and evidences reserved.
Defense lawyers, on the other hand, marked a hearing of the Senate committee on foreign relations dated October 22, 2014, as provisional exhibit and reserved to mark additional exhibits in the course of the court proceedings.
The prosecution has listed 11 witnesses, 7 witnesses from the Philippine National Police and the Naval Command Investigative Service, 9 expert witnesses, and 10 reserved witnesses.
The defense has listed 7 witnesses, including the accused, the mother of the accused, a forensic expert, a US law expert, a military law expert, a psychiatrist, and an NCIS agent.
They also reserved 3 character witnesses.
During arraignment, both the prosecution and defense agreed to a two-day continuous trial, set every Monday and Tuesday, starting on March 23 and ending on the September 22. – Rappler.com