Countdown to Wrongful Conviction Day: Friday, October 2, 2105; 13 days. For information: http://www.aidwyc.org/wcd-2015/
"The lawyers of US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton summed up their defense by asking the court on Thursday to absolve him because, they said, the evidence presented a “reasonable doubt” that he killed transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude. Pemberton’s lawyers told the court that the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service discovered traces of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) around Laude’s neck that belonged to another person.
Forensic medicine is able to determine to a degree of certainty to whom traces of DNA belong. DNA is the molecule that stores all the biological information of a person. With that assertion, Pemberton’s camp concluded its case when it presented its oral summation and submission of memorandum to Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74. Lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores, one of Pemberton’s counsels, said acquittal was the only logical conclusion they could make using the prosecution’s set of evidence. Pemberton was charged with murder after witnesses identified him as Laude’s companion at a disco bar and later at a motel room of Celzone Lodge here, where Laude’s body was found on the night of Oct. 11 last year. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Flores said the presence of “DNA of a third party” indicated that someone else may have murdered Laude. “There is another person who entered the [motel] room [aside from Pemberton] and the evidence came from them (prosecution),” she said. “The prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pemberton killed Laude and they should have done that during their presentation of evidence,” Flores said. As long as a third party exists, Pemberton could not be held responsible for Laude’s death, said lawyer Benjamin Tolosa Jr., another counsel representing the American soldier. Other circumstantial evidence supported this theory, he said. Tolosa said he pointed out in court that a photograph presented during the trial showed Laude “clutching onto a piece of jewelry” when her body was found in the toilet. Pemberton, in his testimony, said he did not wear any piece of jewelry on the night he was with Laude, according to Tolosa. Tolosa said the jewelry in the photograph, which appeared to be a woman’s necklace, was not Laude’s nor was it listed among the belongings recovered from Pemberton and turned over to the prosecution. Tolosa said “Barbie,” a prosecution witness, testified that Laude had P20,000 on the night she was killed. No accounting of that missing cash had been made during the trial, he said. “These [pieces of information] conclusively proved that after Pemberton left, someone else entered the room and was responsible for Laude’s death,” Tolosa said. “Who took the money? Whose DNA was [on Laude’s neck]? Whose jewelry was [in the hands of Laude]? As long as these remained unanswered, then it’s clear that it can’t be Pemberton [who] was responsible for Laude’s death,” he said. Lawyer Harry Roque Jr., lead counsel of the Laude family, described the defense team’s conclusions as “conjectures and theories.” “These are all their hypotheses and they did not prove these with evidence [in court],” Roque said in a separate briefing after the summation."