Laude family pleased with court decision affirming Pemberton’s guilt

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The family of slain Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude is pleased over a court ruling affirming U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton's guilt.

"Nagagalak po ang pamilyang Laude dahil binasura ng korte sa olongapo yung kanilang motion for reconsideration para nga mapa-walang sala si Pemberton," Laude’s counsel, Atty. Harry Roque said.

[Translation: The Laude family is happy that the court did not consider Pemberton’s motion for reconsideration to reverse its decision.]

A local court in Olongapo City refused to reverse the Pemberton’s conviction, but lowered his maximum jail term from 12 to ten years.

The court handed out a guilty verdict against Pemberton for homicide on December 1.

Pemberton had appealed the verdict, insisting on his innocence but the court said the state prosecutors presented enough evidence to prove his guilt.

"Ang sabi ng hukuman ay malinaw, si Pemberton at si Pemberton parin ang tanging puedeng pumatay lamang kay Jennifer Laude," Roque pointed out.

[Translation: The court says it’s Pemberton, and only Pemberton who killed Jennifer Laude.]

In its 24-page decision, Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde based the lowered sentence on two mitigating circumstances present in Pemberton's case — first, passion and obfuscation, and second, intoxication.

Acting on passion and obfuscation essentially means that the crime was done out of impulse or rage and was not necessarily premeditated. In its guilty verdict last December, the court noted that Pemberton was "in the heat of passion" before he arm-locked Laude. The marine neither had full control of his faculties because he was drunk.

CNN Philippines' "New Day" host Atty. Karen Jimeno explained on Monday (April 4) that the reduction of the sentence is within the power of the court.

"What the court did was really within their power, it’s not like they're giving special treatment to Pemberton. This is the application of the revised penal code and the indeterminate sentence act," Jimeno said.

According to Jimeno, the convicted marine could get out of prison after serving only his minimum sentence of six years — that is if the Board on Parole and Probations find him eligible.

"It's also up to their discretion based on the evaluation of his mental, physical condition whether he would be entitled to be released, so the board should issue an order for his release but he would be subject to all the terms and conditions of the parole."

For the family, though, what’s more important is that Pembeton at least spends some time behind bars.

Pemberton and Laude rented a room at the Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City after a night of drinking in October 11, 2014.

Laude was found dead, slumped over the toilet of the same room the same night.