The jail term of US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, convicted of homicide for killing Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, has been reduced from a maximum of 12 years to 10 years according to a report stated on Monday (April 4).
Pemberton filed a petition in January to reverse his conviction and sought a bail and a reduction of his jail term. His lawyer, Atty. Rowena Garcia-Flores, said that the sentence should be eased because the US serviceman surrendered to authorities.
The latest ruling denied Pemberton’s motion seeking the reversal of the judgment and petition for bail. The decision of the sala of Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of Olongapo-RTC Branch 74 stated that Pemberton’s conviction in December 2015 shows that he is no longer presumed innocent and therefore, has no right for bail.
“The court appreciates two mitigating circumstances – namely passion and obfuscation, and intoxication – and without any aggravating circumstance, shall be considered in lowering the penalty by one degree in accordance with Article 64, (5) of the Revised Penal Code,” the ruling stated.
According to the court ruling, Pemberton should get a minimum sentence of six years and a maximum sentence of ten “with full credit for the period of his preventive imprisonment pursuant to Article 29 [of the] Revised Penal Code.”
The clerk of court, Lawyer Gerry Gruspe, said decision is final and executory unless the defense lawyers file a notice of appeal within 15 days from receipt of the court’s order. It is not known whether Pemberton would elevate his conviction to the Court Of Appeals.
The killing of Laude in October, 2014 sparked anger and protests in the country, known to be a key US ally in the region. Discussions have ensued about the increasing US military presence amidst the backdrop of escalating territorial dispute between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.
In 2009, an appeals court overturned the conviction of another US serviceman Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, sentenced to life in prison on charges of raping a Filipino woman in 2005, allowing him to leave the country amid anti-US protests.