U.S. Marine Joseph Pemberton has been offered a plea deal that will give him a chance to avoid a murder trial for the death of transgender Filipinia Jennifer Laude. Lance Cpl. Pemberton has asked the court to downgrade his murder charge that would have him in prison for up to 40 years to a homicide charge, which is a term that will last a maximum of 20 years.
As reported by the International Business Times, Laude’s family is not opposed to the deal, they just want Pemberton to answer for his crime.
“From the beginning until now, that’s what we want: to see him in jail for what he did to my child,” Julita Laude, the victim’s mother. On Tuesday in Olongapo, Pemberton’s defense team met with Prosecutors and the Laude family’s lawyers to discuss the plea bargain.
According to Olongapo Chief Prosecutor Emilie Fe de lo Santos, Pemberton has an option to pay damages and plead guilty to a lesser charge. “They [Pemberton and the Philippine state prosecutors] have to agree on all points. After that, we’ll inform the court. But today there was no offer [from Pemberton],” said de los Santos. If the deal does not go through, the murder trial will begin with prosecutors being able to present their evidence and witnesses as early as March 23.
Pemberton, who was 19 at the time of the murder, is accused of killing Laude, previously known as Jeffery, via asphyxiation after discovering the prostitute was transgender. On February, Pemberton gave a non-guilty plea, which has led the way to the murder trial. Philippine Police filed charges against Pemberton as Filipino courts have the proper jurisdiction over cases that involve American troops accused of crimes on Philippines soil under the Philippines-United States Visiting Forces Agreement.
The U.S. government is currently detaining Pemberton at a Philippines military base in Manila and is refusing to release him into the custody of Philippine authorities.