Revisiting the Jennifer Laude murder case

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On December 1 (Tuesday), the Olongapo City RTC Branch 74 is set to promulgate its decision on whether it found Pemberton guilty of Laude's murder.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, a 26-year-old Filipino transgender, would have married German fiancé Marc Sueselbeck in 2015. But last October 11, 2014, Laude was found dead in the bathroom of a motel room in Olongapo City — neck blackened with strangulation marks and head rammed into a toilet.

The man who allegedly left her in that state was U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.

This timeline, as pieced together by court decisions and investigators from interviews with witnesses, traces the events from the night of Jennifer Laude's death.

October 11, 2014

Laude, 26, met a "white foreigner" at Ambyanz Disco on Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City while having a drink with her friend, Mark Clarence Gelviro a.k.a. Barbie.

Laude agreed to go to a motel with the foreigner she just met at around 10 p.m. and the two headed to Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City. Barbie also tagged along.

While Barbie was in another room with a different companion, Laude and her American acquaintance stayed in Room 1.

Later that night, Laude was found dead — naked with her head submerged in the motel room's toilet.

The man who allegedly left her in that state was 19-year-old Joseph Scott Pemberton, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Battalion-9th Marines of the West Pacific Express.

October 15, 2014

Marilou Laude, Jennifer's sister, filed a murder complaint against Pemberton, who reportedly remained in Subic, Olongapo City.

October 17, 2014

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and Regional Crime Laboratory Office officially released a report confirming that Laude died due to asphyxia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) delivered a subpoena for Pemberton to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Pemberton reportedly remained on board the USS Peleliu, the ship where his group was assigned to, which was docked at the Subic Bay Port.

October 18, 2014

Barbie was placed under the Witness Protection Program.

October 20, 2014

Jennifer's fiancé Marc Sueselbeck arrived in the Philippines.

October 21, 2014

Pemberton was a no-show at the preliminary investigation at the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office. His lawyer, Rowena Garcia Flores, said that Pemberton was not compelled by the subpoena to attend the hearing but was asked to submit a counter-affidavit.

October 22, 2014

Pemberton was transferred via helicopter to the Joint United States Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) inside the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) facility in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. Sueselbeck and Marilou climbed a perimeter fence in Camp Aguinaldo in an attempt to confront Pemberton.

Barbie testified at the hearing headed by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

USS Peleliu left at 12:45 p.m. for its base in Okinawa, Japan.

October 24, 2014

Jennifer Laude was laid to rest at the Heritage Memorial Park in Olongapo City.

October 26, 2014

The Bureau of Immigration prevented Sueselbeck from leaving the country due to a "pending deportation case for undesirability."

October 27, 2014

Pemberton was still a no-show at the preliminary probe. Rowena Garcia Flores, Pembereton's lawyer, filed a motion to "declare the absence of probable cause for murder or any other crime." The motion is asking the murder charge to be reduced to homicide, but it was eventually rejected by the head of the preliminary investigation.

November 1, 2014

Sueselbeck left the country after his appeal for voluntary deportation was granted. He promised to return despite being barred from entering the Philippines.

November 3, 2014

Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos rejected Pemberton's plea and said the prosecution panel would rule on probable cause after completing the process.

November 5, 2014

Prosecutors conducted an inspection of the Ambyanz Disco and the Celzone Lodge in Olongapo.

The Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office granted the Laude family's request for Pemberton’s buccal swab and fingerprints to be gathered.

Pemberton’s camp filed a motion for reconsideration regarding the matter.

November 18, 2014

The Supreme Court denied the Laude family's petition to intervene.

November 28, 2014

The prosecution ruled that, based on the forensic test done by local authorities, Pemberton's DNA did not match any DNA found on pieces of evidence gathered during the probe. Olongapo prosecutor’s office submitted the Laude murder case for resolution.

December 15, 2014

The Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office, headed by De los Santos, found probable cause to file murder charges against Pemberton. No bail was granted for the capital offense filed. The qualifying circumstances cited were treachery, abuse of superior strength, and cruelty.

December 16, 2014

The Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 issued a warrant of arrest for L/Cpl Joseph Scott Pemberton.

The Philippine government demanded custody of Pemberton. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said two letters had been sent to U.S. Embassy officials through the DFA’s American Affairs Office — one transmitting the arrest order against Pemberton and the other requesting his custody.

December 19, 2014

Pemberton surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the court, according to Laude family legal counsel Harry Roque.

Pemberton was booked, a process that included having his mugshots and fingerprints taken and undergoing a medical exam.

Pemberton’s camp filed a motion to suspend proceedings at the Olongapo Regional Trial Court due to motion for review filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

December 22, 2014

Pemberton asked the DOJ to dismiss the murder case filed against him. He also filed a motion to downgrade the case from murder to homicide.

State prosecutors asked Olongapo City RTC Branch 74 Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde to inhibit herself from the Laude slay case because of her links with one of the lawyers of Pemberton. In a manifestation, the prosecutors argued that Jabalde was the classmate of lawyer Garcia Flores, the lead counsel for Pemberton. The defense, however, said there was still a level playing field as the judge's husband was a classmate of lead prosecutor De los Santos.

December 23, 2014

Olongapo City RTC Branch 74 granted Pemberton's motion to suspend proceedings for 60 days, or until the court "is furnished with a copy of the resolution of appeal by petition for review filed by the accused with the Department of Justice, whichever is earlier."

January 27, 2015

DOJ affirmed finding the existence of probable cause against Pemberton for murder.

February 20, 2015

DOJ denied Pemberton's petition for review of the Olongapo City Prosecutor's Office's resolution that there is probable cause against him for murder.

February 23, 2015

The Olongapo City RTC Branch 74 automatically entered a not guilty plea on Pemberton's behalf after he refused to enter any plea for the murder case filed against him at his scheduled arraignment.

February 27, 2015

Laude slay case pretrial conference is scheduled.

March 10, 2015

The possibility of a plea bargain for Pemberton was taken up at the pre-trial hearing, but Atty. Virgie Suarez of the prosecution clarified that the defense made no offer and the prosecution did not ask for anything.

March 23, 2015

This day marked the first day of trial on the Laude murder case against Pemberton.

The Laude family denied reports they were willing to enter plea bargain deal with Pemberton’s camp. In an interview, Laude's mother Julita and sister Marilou claimed it was only Angeles City Chief State Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos who wanted to strike a plea bargain agreement with Pemberton's camp.

The Laude family also submitted a letter to DOJ asking for the replacement of De los Santos as the state prosecutor in Pemberton’s trial.

March 24, 2015

Trial resumed. State prosecutors presented their second witness Barbie. The witness positively identified Pemberton in court as the person whom she left the victim with at Celzone Lodge — where the crime allegedly happened.

April 28, 2015

Laude family sought P200 million in civil damages from Pemberton’s camp. The family's lawyer Roque said the Laudes wanted “P100 million moral and P100 million exemplary as civil damages.”

May 18, 2015

Dr. Reynaldo Dave, who conducted an autopsy on Laude's body, took the witness stand during the continuation of the trial. He said the victim was punched and strangulated before being drowned to death by her killer.

May 19, 2015

Marine Lance Cpl. Jairn Michael Rose testified that Pemberton admitted choking Laude. He even demonstrated how they were trained in Marines to choke and do an arm lock which was also the possible cause of Jennifer’s death.

The three US Marines, Sgt. Daniel Pulido, Lance Cpl. Bennett Dahl, and Cpl. Christopher Miller also took the witness stand against Pemberton.

June 22, 2015

American forensic experts Jessica LeCroy and Derk Dorrien, latent print examiners from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, revealed that one of the three condoms and a condom wrapper recovered from the motel room had the fingerprints of Pemberton.

George Jackson, a forensic toxicologist who examined blood samples taken from Laude, disclosed that she was not under the influence of methamphetamine. The test was taken due to a report that Laude was using illegal drugs.

August 3, 2015

Some evidence of the prosecution, from reports from Naval Criminal Investigative Service and PNP crime laboratory, were not admitted by Olongapo City RTC Branch 74.

Meanwhile, Pemberton’s lawyers postponed their presentation of witnesses.

August 17, 2015

The defense panel presented Pemberton’s mother, Lisa, as its first witness in the trial. She said she still found it impossible that her son was being tried for killing someone. She insisted her son was not a killer.

August 24, 2015

Pemberton, who took the witness stand for the first time, admitted that he choked Jennifer Laude after learning that she was also a “man.”

August 25, 2015

As the last witness of the defense, forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun argued that the water found inside Laude's lungs could be triggered by other factors, such as an existing medical condition, and could not instantly be concluded as drowning. She also said that Laude could have still been alive when Pemberton left the motel room, which would mean no murder was committed.

Pemberton also testified that he dragged Laude's body into the bathroom of the motel room in an attempt to revive her with water.

September 14, 2015

The court postponed to September 17 the oral summation and submission of memorandum of the case, as it granted the request of Pemberton’s lawyers to defer the proceedings.

October 20, 2015

The Bureau of Immigration ordered the deportation of Pemberton, deeming him an undesirable alien. In a resolution dated September 16, 2015, the Bureau of Immigration said Pemberton posed a risk to public interest.

November 19, 2015

Deputy City Prosecutor Misael Ladaga said Pemberton’s lawyers filed a motion in court requesting for the postponement of the promulgation on November 24, prompting Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde to reset it a week later (December 1).

Laude family's private counsel, Virgie Suarez, said that allegedly the three counsels of Pemberton are not available on November 24.

November 24, 2015

The Supreme Court dumped Laude family’s petition seeking to transfer the custody of Pemberton from Camp Aguinaldo to the Olongapo City Jail, a regular jail.

December 1, 2015

The Olongapo City RTC Branch 74 found Pemberton guilty of homicide — and not murder — in the death of Laude. He was sentenced to six to 12 years of imprisonment.

December 16, 2015

Pemberton asks court to grant him bail. His lawyers said the court could grant bail to a person convicted of homicide or any crime with a penalty of reclusion temporal.

March 29, 2016

The Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 reduced Pemberton's prison sentence from 6-12 years to a maximum of 10 years, by virtue of his motion for reconsideration.

April 18, 2016

Pemberton’s lawyer sent a notice to the Olongapo court that he has filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals.

April 10, 2017

The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Pemberton for killing Jennifer Laude. His plea to reverse the guilty verdict was junked because his defense lacked merit. CA also ordered Pemberton to pay Laude's family P75,000 as civil indemnity and P75,000 as moral damages. This was an increase from the initial P50,000 that Pemberton was ordered to pay Laude's family.

This story was first posted on February 24, 2015. It was updated on April 10, 2017 to reflect developments.