A Marine who killed a 26-year-old trans woman in the Philippines was ordered to be released after serving less than six years in prison, The New York Times reports.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton was 20 when he met Jennifer Laude at a Manila nightclub, took her back to a hotel, choked her, and broke her neck in October 2014. Pemberton used a trans panic defense, with his lawyers arguing Laude was responsible for her death because she didn’t disclose to the Marine she was transgender. The attorneys claimed Laude “raped” Pemberton because she performed oral sex on him allegedly before he knew she was trans.
Pemberton was convicted of murder and sentenced to six to 12 years in a Manila-area prison; the sentence was later reduced to 10 years. Pemberton appealed the conviction and the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court granted it,with the Bureau of Corrections ordering his release.
Many expressed fury at Pemberton’s abbreviated sentence, calling it a miscarriage of justice and claiming the decision was made to appease American officials. The Philippines is a former U.S. colony and the two nations are military allies; Pemberton was in Manila to take part in joint military exercises.
“This action will go down in the annals of Philippine history as among the most notorious proof that the U.S. continues to trump Philippine sovereignty to this day,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the organization Karapatan, told the Times.
A 2018 documentary about the high-profile case, Call Her Ganda, was nominated for a GLAAD Award.