Lejeune Marine refuses to enter plea in killing of Filipino transgender

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A Philippine court has entered a not-guilty plea for a U.S. Marine charged with the murder of a Filipino transgender in a case that has tested Manila's longtime military alliance with Washington.

Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton refused to enter a plea Monday to the murder charge in a court proceeding in Olongapo city northwest of Manila, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Journalists were barred from the arraignment.

Pemberton was charged in the October killing of Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey and who had apparently been strangled and drowned in a toilet bowl after the U.S. Marine discovered that she was a transgender woman. They had checked into a motel after meeting in a disco bar.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


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A U.S. Marine charged with killing a transgender Filipino woman has been brought back to the city where the attack occurred two months ago, and lawyers of the victim say they will seek his detention in a local jail during his murder trial.

Relatives of Jennifer Laude saw the suspect, Marine Pfc Joseph Scott Pemberton, for the first time since the killing as he was being photographed and fingerprinted Friday by officers of the Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City northwest of Manila.

The U.S. Embassy has already rejected a request by the Philippine government to take custody of Pemberton, citing a provision in the Visiting Forces Agreement between the countries that gives Americans custodial rights over a U.S. service member facing charges while judicial proceedings are ongoing.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


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A Philippine government prosecutor says a detained U.S. Marine has been charged with murder in the killing of a Filipino transgender.

Prosecutor Emily de los Santos said Monday there was "probable cause" that Marine Pfc. Joseph Pemberton killed Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, in a motel room, where the victim's body was found in October in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila. She had apparently been drowned in a toilet bowl.

The emotional case reignited a debate over custody of American military personnel accused of crimes. But the looming irritant between the treaty allies over Pemberton's custody was eased after Washington agreed to move him from a U.S. warship to a Philippine camp, where he remained under American custody with an outer ring of Filipino guards.

The Marine Corps says Pemberton, is an anti-tank missileman, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines at Camp Lejeune. His is a native of Bristol, Massachusetts.


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The Philippine military chief says a Camp Lejeune Marine suspect in the gruesome killing of a transgender Filipino woman has been flown to the main Philippine military camp in the capital, easing a looming irritant with Washington over his custody.

Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang says that the U.S. Marines transported Pfc Joseph Scott Pemberton on board a helicopter to Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippine military's sprawling headquarters in metropolitan Manila where he was to be detained.

The news comes after Philippine officials said Pemberton failed to appear in court on Tuesday.

Pemberton has been held on board the USS Peleliu at the Subic Bay Freeport, northwest of Manila, after he was implicated in the death of 26-year-old Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey.

Left-wing groups have staged protests demanding that Pemberton be turned over to Philippine authorities.

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Secretary of State John Kerry says a Camp Lejeune Marine accused of killing a transgender Filipino will not be given special privileges.

PFC Joseph Pemberton is accused of murdering Jeffrey Laude, who also goes by Jennifer.

Pemberton is in custody aboard the U.S.S. Peleliu, which is docked at a former Navy base northwest of Manila.

"We're not seeking a special privilege, and everybody's rights will be appropriately protected. And that is exactly what we will do here," said Kerry.

Pemberton did not show up Tuesday for a scheduled court appearance in the case.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Philippines is supposed to have jurisdiction of such a crime. Some lawmakers and activists in the Philippines want to terminate the deal if the United States doesn't hand over Pemberton.

Kerry met Tuesday with the Philippines foreign minister in Jakarta.

"Due process will play out, and we will work with the Philippines in order to make certain that rule of law and the agreement are upheld," said the secretary of state.


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A Camp Lejeune Marine accused of killing a Filipino transgender was expected to appear in court but did not appear, according to a report published in a Filipino newspaper.

The Inquirer newspaper reported the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said Joseph Pemberton was still in the country, despite his failure to appear in court.

The 19 year old Camp Lejeune Marine is charged with the murder of a transgender Filipino he met at a bar earlier this month. The private first-class has been detained on the U.S.S. Peleliu since the accusations.

The newspaper said the prosecutor would determine the consequences of Pemberton not appearing in court. Four other Marines considered to be witnesses have been allowed to leave the Philippines without telling their Department of Foreign Affairs, according to the Inquirer's report.



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A Camp Lejeune Marine accused of killing a Filipino transgender is expected to appear before prosecutors Tuesday.

Filipino police identified the suspect as U.S. Marine Joseph Pemberton. Marine Corps officials have verified the Private First-Class has been detained on the U.S.S. Peleliu since the accusations.

Pemberton is accused of killing Jennifer Laude, who formerly went by Jeffrey.

Foreign officers said Laude met Pemberton at a bar while the Marine was on leave.

The pair reportedly left together and checked in a nearby hotel.

Investigators said half an hour later, Pemberton left and a housekeeper found Laude's body wrapped in a sheet in the bathroom.

She had apparently been drowned.

U.S. investigators are working with local police but have not made any details about the case public.



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The Philippine government has served a subpoena for a U.S. Marine accused of killing a transgender Filipino in an emotional case expected to test the country's military ties with the United States.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said subpoenas for Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton and four other U.S. Marines sought as witnesses in the case were delivered Friday to the U.S. Embassy.

On Wednesday, police filed a murder complaint with prosecutors against Pemberton, who allegedly checked into a motel on Saturday with the victim, Jennifer Laude, after meeting her in a bar in Olongapo, northwest of Manila. Police said Laude was found with her head resting on the motel room's toilet bowl, apparently after being drowned.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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A police inspector says a complaint for murder has been filed in the Philippines accusing a Camp Lejeune Marine of killing a transgender Filipino in a motel room.

Police Chief Inspector Gil Domingo said Marine PFC Joseph Pemberton was the last person seen with the victim late Saturday, when they checked into a motel after meeting in a disco bar in Olongapo city.

Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, was found with her head resting on the motel room's toilet bowl, apparently after being drowned.

Domingo said the criminal complaint was filed Wednesday before government prosecutors, who would decide formal charges.

Pemberton took part in combat exercises between American and Filipino troops. He is being held on the USS Peleliu in the Subic Bay free port northwest of Manila.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Police in the Philippines identified the Camp Lejeune Marine being implicated in the killing of a transgender Filipino.

At a news conference, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose say PFC Joseph Pemberton is still being detained on the USS Peleliu.

Protests erupted outside the American Embassy in Manila as activists demanded the U.S. handover Pemberton.

During the demonstration outside the embassy, U.S. flags were burned and protestors called on U.S. troops to leave the country.

26-year-old Jeffrey Laude was found dead, apparently strangled or drowned, in a motel room northwest of Manila over the weekend.

According to police, witnesses described the white man that the victim checked into the hotel with was a U.S. Marine who the victim met at a bar.

Police said that Laude's attacker may have been angered when he discovered that Laude was transgender.

The Marine Corps says the Marine from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines is being detained on board the amphibious assault ship.

About 3,000 Marines and sailors just finished two weeks of military exercises with Filipino military personnel last Friday.

The Marine Corps says the Peleliu and other ships would stay pending an investigation into the killing.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the US does not have to transfer any member of the armed forces suspected of a crime to local custody until judicial proceedings are complete.

Filipino authorities are expected the request that the US waive that policy, but there's no guarantee the request will be granted.


Previous Story

A Marine from Camp Lejeune is in custody, after the death of a transgender person in the Philippines.

The Marine Corps says the Marine from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines is being detained on board the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu.

The victim has been identified as 26-year-old Jeffrey Laude.

A local paper says Laude's body was discovered this weekend, and showed signs of strangulation.

The Inquirer says the victim checked into a hotel with a "male white foreigner", but the man left a short time later. A friend of the victim told the paper the two met at a disco, and that Laude wanted the man to leave before he discovered they were transgenders.

The Marine Corps Times says the regiment from Camp Lejeune is in the Philippines for a joint training exercise. It says three other Marines, described as potential witnesses, are also detained on the Peleliu.

Marines say they continue to work with Philippine authorities, and as more facts become clear they will release additional information.