The Philippine Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court's ruling sentencing an American soldier to six to 10 years in jail for the brutal death of a Filipino transgender almost three years ago.
The Court of Appeals has affirmed a regional trial court's ruling finding US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton guilty of homicide over the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude.
Pemberton met Laude at the Ambyanz Disco in Olongapo City on October 11, 2014, following which they checked into a local motel. "Laude's money was stolen by a third person and there was a necklace that belonged to a third person", she said.
It explained that the case was filed against Pemberton on December 15, 2014 or four days before Pemberton presented himself to the trial court.
Pemberton accused Laude of slapping him, although the Philippines Court of Appeals described his claim as "more imaginary than real" and "easily concocted".
"The only reason why he attacked Laude was that he was furious at him for pretending to be a woman, nothing more, nothing less", it said.
The CA also affirmed the P4.32 million award to the family of the slain Mr. Laude, as well as the P30,000 exemplary damage.
The Marine corporal remains detained in a US-owned air-conditioned van in Camp Aguinaldo, the general headquarters of the Philippine military.
The case had struck a nerve in the Philippines, as questions over custody of United States servicemen accused of crimes had turned into jurisdictional disputes that sparked heated debates on sovereignty.
The CA also agreed with the RTC's sentence of imprisonment for a maximum period of 10 years. His claim is disputed as Laude was found drowned in the shallow water of the toilet, which led to her death.
He requested a reversal of the guilty verdict, but the plea was struck down in the Court of Appeals in Manila Monday, the Associated Press reported.
Pemberton said the lower court erred in convicting him due to the testimony of forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun that Laude did not die by drowning.
She said: 'The (lower) courts set aside all evidence that shows that another person could have killed Laude.
Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Henri Jean Paul Inting concurred with this ruling.
"Because Pemberton is not yet incarcerated at the National Bilibid Prison".
Their lawyer, House deputy minority leader and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said that the affirmation of Pemberton's conviction "is an affirmation of Philippine sovereignty" and thus a "welcome development".
"The special treatment accorded to Pemberton since his conviction shows the disparity and injustice that agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement bestows upon the Filipino people", they said.
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