Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton
Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton Olongapo City Police

A U.S. Marine was found guilty Tuesday of murder in the death of a transgender woman in the Philippines a year ago in a case that sparked international controversy.

Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, 20, met Jennifer Laude in a disco while on a break after having participated in military exercises near Olongapo, about a two-hour drive northwest of Manila.

The two checked into a hotel, where they reportedly had sex, during which Pemberton discovered Laude had male genitalia. While the Marine claimed he acted in self defense, he was accused of strangling her and then dunking her head in a toilet bowl where she choked to death, according to police. Afterward, two fellow Marines said Pemberton told them, “I think I killed a he-she.”

The incident became another flash point around the United States’ military presence in the Philippines — already long a source of resentment for many Filipinos. Protesters held numerous demonstrations over the past year decrying the United States military and making the demand “Justice for Jennifer” a well-known refrain.

Protesters were out in force Tuesday, celebrating the verdict and burning an effigy of Uncle Sam near the courthouse where the decision was handed down.

Pemberton is being detained at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Custodial Center at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, according to the public affairs office at Camp H.M. Smith in Honolulu.

As of Wednesday morning, it was unclear when Pemberton will be sentenced or where he will serve time.

About the Author