Pemberton seeks reversal of conviction in Laude slay case

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2017 03:07 PM

Joseph Scott Pemberton File Photo

MANILA - US Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton has asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to reverse its decision upholding his conviction in the killing of 26-year old Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, and acquit him of the offense.

Pemberton filed his motion for reconsideration (MR) on April 26, 23 days after the appellate court upheld his conviction by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74.

In a 48-page decision last April 3, the appellate court's Special Sixteenth Division denied Pemberton's appeal for a reversal of his conviction by the Olongapo City RTC "for lack of merit."

In his MR, Pemberton alleged that the CA "committed grave error in exempting the prosecution from proving that the crime of homicide was committed beyond reasonable doubt and shifting the burden on Pemberton to prove his innocence."

Laude was found dead on October 11, 2014 inside the bathroom of a Celzon Lodge room where he and Pemberton checked in. She was reportedly last seen alive with the American serviceman whom she met earlier that night at Ambyanz Disco.

Pemberton was found guilty of homicide for Laude's slay on December 1, 2015, and was sentenced to serve a jail term of 6-10 years.

He is serving his sentence in a detention facility inside the Philippine military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In his MR, Pemberton said the CA "cherry-picked evidence to sustain the conviction and completely ignored all contrary evidence."

"This honorable court found credence in the testimonies [of three prosecution witnesses] only insofar as they are unfavorable to Pemberton. The court disregarded such portions of their testimonies that are consistent with Pemberton's innocence," the motion read.

Pemberton also pointed out that the CA failed to appreciate the mitigating circumstance of his voluntary surrender "at the earliest possible opportunity."

He also argued that the appellate court should have appreciated the mitigating circumstance of the absence of any intent on his part to kill Laude, and maintained that "he in fact did not kill Laude."

In the event that his plea is not granted, Pemberton urged the CA to lower the penalty imposed upon him, as well as reduce the amount of damages awarded to Laude's kin.

In its assailed decision, the appellate court ruled that "the conviction of Pemberton for homicide is undeniable."

"All in all, despite Pemberton's self-serving, exculpatory statement limiting his involvement in the crime, all circumstances pointed to his guilt. His third-person-killer theory faltered in the face of the direct testimonies of eyewitnesses… positively identifying him as the only person who was with Laude before the latter's lifeless body was found," the CA's April 3, 2017 decision read.