A U.S. Marine was found guilty on Tuesday of killing a woman after learning she was transgender while the two were at a hotel in the Philippines.
A Philippine court convicted Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton of homicide by strangling Jennifer Laude and then dunking her head into a toilet bowl shortly after the pair had checked into a hotel, the Associated Press reported.
Pemberton met Laude in a disco in Olongapo City on October 11, 2014 while Pemberton was on leave with a group of Marines after participating in a joint exercise with Philippine military personnel.
He left with Laude, a Filipina who at least two witnesses reportedly testified worked as a sex worker, and went to the Celzone Lodge. About 30 minutes after checking into the room, Pemberton walked out and left the door ajar, the AP wrote.
Pemberton, an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Massachusetts, testified in August that he choked Laude during a fight that started when he realized she was a transgender woman, but claimed she was still alive when he left her in the shower.
Police have said Laude had apparently been drowned in a toilet.
Pemberton was sentenced to six to 12 years in jail, with time spent in detention credited.
Laude’s mother, Julita, said she had hoped her child’s killer would be found guilty of murder, a more severe crime.
“But the important thing is he will be jailed. My son’s life is not wasted,” she said after the verdict, the AP wrote.
He was ordered jailed at the New Bilibid Prison, a national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City, by Regional Trial Court Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde, the AP reported.
Left-wing activists outside the courthouse reportedly said they would be watching closely to ensure Pemberton was imprisoned in a Philippine facility.
Their demand comes as the debate begins over which government should have custody of U.S. military personnel who violate local laws under a Visiting Forces Agreement signed by the States and the Philippines in 1998.