Pemberton withdraws appeal, accepts 10-year sentence from 2015

US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton – who killed Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude – has withdrawn his appeal from the Supreme Court (SC), accepting a 2015 lower court ruling which sentenced him to 10 years in prison over homicide.

This means he would walk free in 5 years, or sooner, if his Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) and Credit of Preventive Imprisonment (CPI) are taken into account. CPI is jail time served before conviction, a credit which the Court of Appeals upheld for Pemberton. 

The SC notice showed Pemberton filed a motion for leave to withdraw his petition on June 2, 2020.

"The Court grants petitioner's urgent motion for leave to withdraw stating that after thoughtful consideration of the circumstances of this case, he has decided to withdraw his petition, both as to criminal and civil accepts of the appeal, and accepts and recognizes that his conviction will become final and executory," said the SC 3rd Division in a notice sent to media Monday, August 24.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 convicted Pemberton of homicide on December 1, 2015, over the killing of Laude – whom he met in Olongapo and had oral sex with.

The court found that when Pemberton discovered Laude had male genitals, the soldier "arm-locked the deceased, and dunked his (her) head in the toilet."

Autopsy found that Laude died due to asphyxia by drowning and strangulation.

The Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling on August 15, 2017.

The Philippine and US governments say that Pemberton is in a restricted facility in Camp Aguinaldo, a perk afforded to the marine courtesy of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The Duterte government has, in the past year, revoked and then maintained the VFA. The Philippines suspended the supposed termination of the VFA on June 2, the same day Pemberton withdrew his appeal.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was a lawyer to the Laude family. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.