OLONGAPO - US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton on Friday appeared before the Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 three days after the court issued a warrant of arrest against him in connection with the October 11 murder of Filipino Jennifer Laude.
Pemberton was escorted by American and Filipino security forces from his detention facility at the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) compound in Camp Aguinaldo to the Hall of Justice in Olongapo this morning.
To avoid the media, Pemberton's escorts passed through the back entrance of the Olongapo Hall of Justice where they cut part of the steel fence to pass.
Security guards and policemen also prohibited members of the media to go to the second floor of the building so that they would not be able to take videos and photos of the US Marine suspect.
The only photo and video of Pemberton were provided by the victim's sister, Marilou, and the Laude family's lawyer, Harry Roque.
During the booking process, Pemberton underwent a medical examination and his mugshots and fingerprints were taken.
Pemberton, however, was not arraigned as his lawyers asked for suspension of proceedings pending their appeal with the Department of Justice (DOJ) on its finding of probable cause to indict the American serviceman of murder.
According to the Laude family, they had mixed emotions when they saw Pemberton for the first time.
Marilou and Michelle said they were mad at Pemberton and wanted to ask him why he killed their sister Jennnfer. But they were not given a chance to do that since Pemberton was escorted by several US servicemen.
Nonetheless, they still felt relieved, saying the wheels of justice are now slowly turning in the case of Jennifer.
Their counsel, Virgie Suarez, said they will file several motions this afternoon, among them a motion to have Pemberton detained in a local jail and a motion to allow the media to cover the proceedings.
Suarez lambasted the allegedly VIP treatment being given to Pemberton, who she noted was even allowed to sneak in the rear entrance of the all of justice.
The court said it would hear Pemberton's pleadings on Monday, December 22. No schedule has been set for his arraignment.