A United States marine accused of murdering a transgender woman in the Philippines testified at his trial on Aug. 24 that he had indeed choked the woman until she was no longer moving. He did not, however, admit that he had killed her.
The marine, Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, 20, was arrested in October 2014 in connection with the death of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipino. Laude and Pemberton met at a nightclub in Olongapo City, Philippines, where the marine was residing during military exercises.
Pemberton brought Laude and another woman he had met at the nightclub to a hotel, unaware that they were transgender. According to Pemberton, one of the two women left to buy condoms after performing oral sex on the marine.
While Laude and Pemberton were alone in the hotel room, the marine discovered that Laude actually had a penis. Pemberton then shoved Laude, who then slapped him, which the marine responded to by using an arm lock to choke the woman until she was no longer moving.
In his testimony, Pemberton alleges that Laude was still breathing after being choked into a state of unconsciousness. He said that he then dragged her into the bathroom, where he left her slumped over a toilet, before taking a taxi back to his ship.
Pemberton and his lawyer maintain that the marine did not kill Laude, and that when he left her unconscious body in the bathroom, she was still alive. Pemberton claims that he feared being scammed by Laude, and felt that he was a victim of fraud committed by a sex worker.
Another marine, Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose, said that he went out with Pemberton to the nightclub on that fateful evening, and said that, after returning to the ship, Pemberton confided in his fellow marine that he attacked the woman he had gone home with by choking her after discovering that she was transgender.
"I think I killed a he/she," Pemberton told Rose.