Pemberton admitted to killing a ‘he or she,’ US Marine testifies
OLONGAPO CITY—The “liberty” companion of US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton testified on Tuesday that the accused in the murder of transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude had told him that he might have killed “a he or a she” on the night they went bar hopping here in October last year.
US Marine Lance Cpl. Jairn Michael Rose stood by his sworn affidavit and recounted his conversations with Pemberton when they returned to their ship after their liberty (rest and recreation) activities on Oct. 11, said lawyer Harry Roque, lead counsel for the Laude family.
Roque said Rose had told the court that Pemberton approached him shortly after they went back to their ship and told him, “I think I may have killed a he or a she.”
“After their conversation, he (Rose) said Pemberton went to sleep while he made a phone call to his parents to seek advice,” Roque told reporters during a break in the hearing on Tuesday.
Rose, he said, later talked to US Marine Sgt. Christopher Miller, who did not leave their ship, to relay what Pemberton had told him.
The court has barred reporters from covering the trial. Details of the proceedings and testimonies given by witnesses are provided by the lawyers of the family, who would brief reporters during breaks. Lawyers of Pemberton have not granted requests for interview since the trial started in March.
Roque said Rose made clear descriptions of what happened between Pemberton and Laude inside a room of Celzone Lodge on Magsaysay Drive as relayed to him by the accused.
Citing Rose’s testimony, Roque said Pemberton discovered that Laude was a transgender woman and this angered him.
“Rose said Pemberton choked Jennifer until she stopped moving and he then dragged her into the bathroom,” he said.
A motel employee found Laude’s body in the bathroom after Pemberton left the room past 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 11.
Lawyer Virgie Suarez, another counsel for the Laude family, said Rose also testified that he and Pemberton entered the service in August 2013 and they had undergone similar military training and boot camps.
“Among the declarations of Rose is that they were trained how to choke and how to do an arm lock,” Suarez told reporters.
She said Rose told the court that as members of the US Marine Corps, they have to keep themselves fit and that they engage in regular physical fitness training.
Suarez said the prosecution asked Rose to demonstrate in court how an arm lock is done.
Rose also identified himself from the group of soldiers who were inside Ambyanz Disco Bar on Magsaysay Drive, where Pemberton met Laude, as shown on closed-circuit television footage, Suarez said.
Asked why Rose was testifying against Pemberton despite their friendship, Suarez said, Rose told the court that he was abiding by the US Marines’ honor system, which directs its members to tell the truth.
Miller, who took the stand on Tuesday afternoon, had said in his sworn affidavit that Rose and two other Marines—Lance Cpl. Bennett Dahl and Cpl. Daniel Pulido—returned to their ship at 12:10 a.m. on Oct. 12 after their “shore leave.”
The sworn affidavit, cited in a Dec. 15, 2014, resolution by the prosecution panel, quoted Miller as saying that “liberty time” was until midnight and Pemberton was not with the three Marines when they returned to the ship docked at the Alava Pier in the Subic Bay Freeport.
In the affidavit, Miller said Pemberton boarded the ship shortly after his companions arrived. He said he berated the four soldiers for being late.
He said Pemberton had told him that he got separated from his companions while they were on their way to the ship.
Miller said he asked them to go to bed and he went to sleep.
But Rose later woke him up and told him there was a situation he could not handle, Miller said.
He said Rose asked him to talk to Pemberton, which he did. Pemberton refused to tell Miller what happened but Rose said Pemberton “may have killed somebody.”
Miller said he asked Pemberton if it was true but the latter just stared at him blankly.
Roque said personnel of the US Naval Criminal Investigation Service eventually took the statements of the soldiers.
Suarez said Dahl and Pulido were also called to the witness stand on Tuesday afternoon.
She said the American soldiers’ testimonies were consistent with statements in their sworn affidavits.
Pulido was approached by Laude’s friend, identified only as “Barbie,” and was told, “Your friend killed my friend” when the American soldier was looking for Pemberton as their liberty time was about to end, Suarez said.
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