Laude camp says clueless about Pemberton bid for early release


Posted at Sep 03 2020 12:47 PM

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A lawyer for the family of slain transgender Jennifer Laude said Thursday they did not know that Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US Marine Lance Corporal convicted in her killing, had sought early release from prison, which a court granted this week. 

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 and Pemberton's lawyers "violated our due process" when they failed to inform Laude's camp of proceedings for the soldier to walk free for good behavior, said lawyer Virginia Suarez. 

She said she only learned of Pemberton's good conduct time allowance (GCTA) last week, when she went to the court.

"Nagkakaroon na pala ng mga hearing, nagkakaroon na pala ng kung ano-anong motions nang hindi namin alam-- not even the Center Law, not even the Laude [family]," she told ANC. "Ang dali naman akong padalhan ng notice, ang dali naman akong tawagan, ang dali rin sanang bigyan ako via email." 

(There were already hearings, various motions without our knowledge-- not even the Center Law, not even the Laude family. It would have been so easy to send me a notice, call me or email me.)

Suarez said that while the other camp could argue that Laude's lawyers should only be involved in the civil aspect, the case against the American "is the people of the Philippines versus Pemberton."

"It is the concern of the entire Filipino people, even of the ordinary masses. Bakit para hindi kami ma-involve d'yan?" she said. 

(Why shouldn't we get involved there?)

Pemberton's camp made no mention of his bid for early release even during their talks with the Laude family about a court order for him to pay P4.5 million in damages, which he settled last month, said Suarez. 

Laude's camp is thinking of filing at the Supreme Court a violation of ethics or disbarment case against Pemberton's lawyer as well as the judge for "double violation of our right to due process," she said. 

The court sentenced Pemberton to 6 to 10 years in prison in December 2015 for homicide over Laude's slay.

Laude was last seen alive with Pemberton at Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City after they had drinks in a nearby bar in October 2014. Pemberton had argued he acted in self-defense after Laude allegedly slapped him when he discovered that the victim had male genitals after they engaged in an intimate act.

The court ruled that Pemberton had already served the maximum 10-year prison sentence considering time he has spent in prison plus the GCTA grant. By this October, it would be six years since Laude's slay.

ANC, Sept. 3, 2020