A U.S. Marine has been charged with murdering a Filipino transgender woman after he reportedly checked into a hotel with her and then discovered she was born male.
Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, 19, allegedly killed Jennifer Laude in a motel room in October. The woman, whose former name was Jeffrey, was reportedly strangled and drowned in a toilet bowl and Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos said Monday that there is “probable cause” to prove Pemberton was responsible, reports the Daily Mail.
“It’s murder,” de los Santos said. “It was aggravated by treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”
Pemberton was reportedly hanging out at a few bars with three Marine friends on Oct. 11 in Olongapo in the Philippines. He met Laude at a disco that night and parted from his friends to check into the motel with Laude, according to his fellow Marines. He was spotted leaving the motel shortly before police found the woman dead inside one of the rooms.
One of his companions that night, Marine Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose, reportedly told police that Pemberton admitted he choked Laude after discovering she was a transgender when she got undressed, reports CBS News. Rose says he told him, “I think I killed a he/she.”
The Philippine government said in a statement that it looks “forward to the full cooperation of the U.S. government in ensuring that justice is secured for Laude.”