Charges have been filed in the Philippines against a U.S. Marine in relation to the death of Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipino woman. Marine private first class Joseph Scott Pemberton was one of thousands of U.S. service members visiting the country for a joint training exercise. According to local authorities, Pemberton was on shore leave in Olongapo City, about an hour from Manila, when he took Laude and another transgender woman named Barbie to a motel.
After Pemberton was seen leaving the room, a motel clerk found Laude next to the toilet. She had been strangled and drowned.
“Based on two witnesses’ testimonies, we believe we have a strong case against the U.S. Marine,” said Olongapo City police chief Pedrito delos Reyes.
The American sailors and marines had been in the Philippines for the annual Philippines-U.S. Amphibious Landing Exercise, which concluded on Saturday. U.S. officials are now worried about upsetting the delicate relationship between the two countries and are holding American ships in the Philippines and cooperating with the investigation. Three other Marines may be potential witnesses.
Under a previous agreement, the Philippines can try American servicemembers, but defendants may remain in U.S. custody.