US marine Joseph Scott Pemberton has been found guilty of homicide in the death of a transgender woman in the Philippines on 11 October last year.
The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court on Tuesday (1 December) sentenced the 20-year-old Massachusetts native to six to 12 years imprisonment.
He had faced a murder charge, which carries a 40-year sentence.
Pemberton was convicted of strangling 26-year-old Jennifer Laude, then drowning her in the toilet of a motel they had checked into after meeting at a bar in Olongapo, where he was stationed.
Pemberton admitted to choking Laude in August but claimed to have acted in self-defense.
He said Laude was performing oral sex on him when he reached down between her legs and felt a penis. He said he became angry because he felt that he was being raped by another ‘man.’
Pemberton was also ordered to pay the victim’s family P4.32 million ($91,571) in lost earnings, P155,250 ($3,291) in funeral expenses, P50,000 ($1,060) in moral damages and P30,000 ($636) in exemplary damages.
However, transgender activists have expressed anger over the homicide charge and the misgendering of Laude throughout the trial.
‘The transgender community of the Philippines expected no less than murder. Justice has finally come to Jennifer Laude and her family but it is one weak enough to cover or even approximate our expectations,’ Dindi Tan told Gay Star News.
‘Thanks, but no thanks. This is a ruling that is as insensitive as it could get in the sense that it did not take into account the “lived reality” of transgender people. Anchoring the court decision on the contention that Jennifer Laude is “legally” male was off-tangent and utterly disrespectful of Jennifer Laude’s life story.’