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Olongapo RTC says Pemberton free to go, has served sentence


THE Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City has ordered the release of convicted United States Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton from prison after completing his 10-year maximum jail sentence for killing Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City in 2014.

Olongapo RTC Judge Roline Ginez-Abalde  issued the order after computing Pemberto’s total accumulated time served with his Good Conduct Time Allowance.

Based on the computation, Pemberton had served a total of 405 days during his preventive imprisonment and 1,737 days during service of his 10-year prison term. 

On the other hand, the court ruled that the US marine was entitled to a 260 days GCTA during preventive imprisonment and 1,288 GCTA during service of his sentence. 

Thus, Pemberto actual time served in jail is 2,142 days and 1, 548 days for GCTA. 

“Finally, accused Pemberton has a total accumulated time served with entitlement of GCTA ten (10) years, 1 month and ten (10) days, which is more than the ten (10) year maximum penalty imposed by this court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals . Thus, he is now entitled to be released for he had already served the ten (10) year maximum of his penalty,” the trial court declared. 

The trial court also noted that Pemberton had already paid the entire amount awarded by the court in its decision dated November 18,  2015 as amended by the CA in its April 3, 2017 decision. 

It can be recalled Pemberton was ordered to pay P4.32 million representing  the award of loss earning capacity;  P155,250 representing award of actual damages, P75,000 as civil indemnity; P75,000 as moral damages and P35,000 as exemplary damages.

“Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, the partial motion for reconsideration of accused L/Cpl. Joseph Pemberton is granted. The Director General of Bureau of Corrections is directed to release accused L/Cpl Joseph Scott Pemberton from detention unless he is being held for some other lawful cause or causes,” the order read. 

Laude’s sister Marilou through lawyer Virginia Suarez immediately filed a motion for reconsideration of the court’s order. 

She insisted that Pemberton’s camp failed to show proof of good conduct while in jail. 

“Significantly, in the case of Pemberton, there is no showing that he has any active involvement in rehabilitation programs or has participated in any authorized work activities or has accomplished any exemplary deed, No conduct can be attributed to him. Hence, no good conduct time allowance should be granted to him,” the appeal said. 

Laude’s camp also noted that there is no record from the Time Allowance Supervisor that would show Pemberton  has attended and actively participated in any of the rehabilitation programs  or if he has productively participated in authorized work activities or he has accomplished an exemplary deed, as mandated under the 2017 Uniform Manual on Time Allowances and Service of Sentence. 

They added that there should also be a recommendation made by the Management Screening and Evaluation Committee. 

Prior to this, the Supreme Court  granted Pemberto’s urgent motion for leave to withdraw his petition seeking the reversal of the CA  decision issued on April 3, 2017 which affirmed his conviction for homicide by the Olongapo RTC.

Pemberton said he decided to withdraw his petition “after thoughtful consideration of the circumstances” of the case.

The US marine said the withdrawal of his petition both covers the criminal and civil aspects of  his appeals.

In his motion for reconsideration filed before the CA, Pemberton sought the reversal of his conviction insisting that he did not kill Laude and that the latter was alive when he left him inside their motel room. 

He maintained that the wounds he inflicted on Laude were in self-defense while they were fighting after he discovered that the victim was a transgender. 

But, the CA ruled  that in justifying circumstances of self-defense, Pemberton was just trying to exonerate himself or reduce his penalty from the charge of homicide.

It stressed that Pemberton’s  claim of self-defense cannot be given weight due to his failure to prove that he was attacked by Laude and that his life was in peril on the night of the incident.

The CA added that Pemberton’s immediate escape from Celzone Lodge where Laude was found dead is an indication of guilt. 

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