Joseph Scott Pemberton is from New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States. He made headlines when he was accused of strangling Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude and drowning her to death in the toilet of room number 1 of Celzone Lodge, a motel in Olongapo City, Philippines.
On October 11, 2014, Pemberton was on shore leave in Olongapo City. In the evening, he went bar-hopping with three fellow Marines namely Sergeant Daniel Pulido, Lance Corporal Bennett Dahl and Corporal Christopher Miller.
At around 10:00 p.m. that night, Pemberton befriended Laude and another Filipino transwoman Mark Clarence “Barbie” Caguioa Gelviro at the Ambyanz Night Life Club in Olongapo City. At around 11:00 p.m., Laude gave Pemberton fellatio at Celzon Lodge, which was just across the bar.
A private first class, Pemberton was one of the 3,500 U.S. sailors and Marines sent to the Philippines for a joint exercise in October 2014. Here are 13 more facts about him:
- He was born on December 13, 1994 to Joseph Pemberton and Lisa D. Pemberton. Among their family and relatives are Harmony Kay Pemberton, Nancy A. Pemberton, Shawna Marie Pemberton and Carol Sylvia Pemberton.
- Majoring in metal fabrication and joining, he graduated from Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School (GNB Voc-Tech) in New Bedford in 2013. In the same year, he enlisted with the U.S. Marines and was an anti-tank missile man of the U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Battalion-9th Marines of the West Pacific Express based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, USA.
- He was 19 years old when he met Laude on October 11, 2014. On October 13, 2014, light scratches were found on his chest, forearms and legs during an examination conducted by Dr. Kenny Choi of the U.S. Navy. On October 15, 2014, Laude’s sister Marilou Laude-Mahait filed murder charges against him.
- On December 15, 2014, the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office found probable cause for charging him with murder, which he appealed but was denied.
- On February 23, 2015, he was brought to an Olongapo court, which entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. His fingerprints were found on one of the three condoms recovered at the door of the bathroom of the motel room where he and Laude checked in, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory latent print examiner Jessica LeCroy said in June 2015. Expert prosecution witness Derek Dorrien said his fingerprints matched those on a condom wrapper found in the motel room.
- His uncle Scott Pemberton, a former boxer from the South Coast of Massachusetts, described him as “a good kid” who “has never given anyone any trouble” while his former GNB Voc-Tech classmate Brett Aguiar described him as “a peaceful individual” in an interview with South Coast Today in March 2015.
- He was represented by Filipino lawyer Rowena Flores. His murder trial started on March 16, 2015. The court only had one year to complete the trial because the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) of the U.S. and the Philippines was in effect.
- He admitted to choking Laude, Marine Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose testified on May 19, 2015. Rose was the customer of Laude’s former roommate named Jamille, a transwoman and a sex worker, on October 11, 2014. On June 30, 2015, he denied killing Laude but admitted that they had a fight. He “acted in self-defense” when he found out that Laude was “a man,” he explained. On August 25, 2015, he testified at the continuation of his murder trial at the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court. Claiming he was suffering from “gay shock syndrome,” he said he killed Laude to defend himself, the Philippine Inquirer quoted Laude family’s lead counsel Harry Roque as saying.
- His sister is a lesbian so he would never hurt anyone from the LGBT community, his mother told ABS-CBN News in August 2015.
- On December 1, 2015, he was found guilty of homicide and was sentenced to 6-12 years in prison. The court decided that the killing of Laude “amounted only to homicide” and did not meet the standards for murder.
- His legal team filed a motion for reconsideration on January 6, 2016 asking the regional trial court in Olongapo to reassess the guilty verdict while another petition was filed to reduce the sentence if ever the guilty verdict would remain. The court denied the motion on April 3, 2016. On April 7, 2016, he filed an appeal to reverse the decision to the Court of Appeals.
- On April 10, 2017, the Court of Appeals denied motion for reconsideration explaining that he “never thought of Laude as a human being but as fecal matter due to her sexual orientation.” On April 26, 2017, he filed another motion for reconsideration. On August 15, 2017, the court declared final its decision sentencing him to a maximum of 10 years in prison for killing Laude.
- On September 1, 2020, Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 ordered his early release based on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credited while detained in a special jail inside Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. He had served 2,142 days in prison and more than 1,500 days from GCTA were credited to him.