CONVICTED U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton on Friday, September 4, asked the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 to dismiss the motion for reconsideration filed by the family of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude to block his early release.
Pemberton’s lawyer, Rowena Flores, filed a six-page opposition asking the court to deny the appeal as it lacked merit and the family lost the personality to assail the court’s order.
“The motion for reconsideration is asking the Court to treat Pemberton differently from all other persons convicted by final judgment without any legal basis and in flagrant violation of the equal protection clause,” she said.
Pemberton’s camp explained that the private complainant has already lost the personality to participate in further proceedings in this case since the judgment debt awarded to the private complainant has already been paid and satisfied.
“Allowing the private complainant to still seek any affirmative relief from the Court in relation to Pemberton’s criminal liability, when he has already served his sentence in full, is not in consonance with basic precepts of fairness and equity,” the defense added.
On Thursday, the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) suspended Pemberton’s release after Laude’s sister, Marilou Laude-Mahait, asked the court to direct Pemberton to complete his sentence.
“BuCor respects the court processes and will wait for the resolution of the filed motion for reconsideration,” BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said.
“The normal release process is on hold. Pemberton remains under custody of BuCor at its extension facility in Camp Aguinaldo (in Quezon City),” he added.
On Tuesday, September 1, the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court ordered Pemberton’s release, saying that the convicted American serviceman had served the minimum of his sentence for killing Laude on October 11, 2014.
According to the court, Pemberton has served a total of 2,142 days or over five years and eight months in prison. He has also accumulated a good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days or more than four years.
GCTA is a sentence reduction provision given to inmates who have shown good conduct during their jail sentence.
“Accused Pemberton has a total accumulated time served with entitled of GCTA of 10 years, one month and 10 days which is more than the 10-year maximum penalty imposed by this court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA),” the court said.
“Thus he is now entitled to be released for he had already served the ten (10) year maximum of his penalty,” it added.
The order was signed by Presiding Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde.
Pemberton was convicted of homicide on December 1, 2015, for killing Laude in 2014. He was sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment.
The Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ), for its part, said it will be filing its own motion asking the Olongapo court to reconsider its order for the U.S. Marine’s release.
“We hope that the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) will join the DOJ in our motion,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.