Marine faces 12 years for killing a transgender woman

A court in the Philippines found U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton guilty for killing Jennifer Laude in a hotel room outside of Manila in 2014.

Joseph Scott Pemberton Mugshot

The Philippine government sought murder charges against Pemberton but the court downgraded his crime to the lesser charge of homicide. The difference between the two charges is the charge of murder requires the killing be “aggravated by treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”

In Oct. 2014, Pemberton met Laude in a bar while he was on leave. The two checked into a nearby hotel where he attacked the transgendered woman when he found out she was born a male. He admitted to the attack but maintained she was alive when he left the hotel.

Laude was found strangled with her head in the room’s toilet.

The case strained relations between the two countries. The Philippines, a former U.S. territory, will hold Pemberton until the two governments reach a consensus on where he should serve his prison term. There are calls in the Philippine government to end its military relationship with the United States.

Laude with her German fiancé

Laude with her German fiancé, Marc Sueselbeck

The current status of forces agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines allows the Philippines to prosecute members of the U.S. military, but the U.S. government is to hold them until all court proceedings are finished.

Pemberton is also ordered to pay the U.S. equivalent of $95,350 to the family of the victim.