American soldier seeks acquittal in Laude case

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Joseph Scott Pemberton has asked the Court of Appeals to acquit him on the killing of 26-year-old Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.

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In his motion for reconsideration before the appeals court, the American lance corporal reiterated that he merely acted in self-defense.

The US soldier argued that the appeals court “committed grave error in exempting the prosecution from proving that the crime of homicide was committed beyond reasonable doubt and shifting the burden on Pemberton to prove his innocence.”

The appeals court had ruled that the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court committed no error of judgment in sending Pemberton to jail for up to 10 years for homicide.

“We thus find Pemberton’s defense of an impending grave danger more imaginary than real… Indeed, a plea of self-defense cannot be justifiably appreciated where it is not only uncorroborated by independent and competent evidence, but also extremely doubtful by itself. Self-defense, like alibi, is a defense which can easily be concocted as it is in this case,” the appeals court had said.

It said the only reason Laude was attacked by Pemberton was the latter’s discovery that Laude was not biologically female.

However, Pemberton’s motion claimed that the appeals court relied on “cherry-picked evidence to sustain the conviction and completely ignored all contrary evidence.”

“This honorable court found credence in the testimonies [of three prosecution witnesses]only insofar as they are unfavorable to Pemberton. The court disregarded such portions of their testimonies that are consistent with Pemberton’s innocence,” it said.

It also said the court failed to recognize his surrender as a “mitigating circumstance” “at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Pemberton pleaded for a lower penalty and reduction of the amount of damages awarded to Laude’s kin, if he is not acquitted.

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