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Who Is Joseph Pemberton, the Man Who Killed Jennifer Laude?

He admitted to choking Jennifer Laude in a testimony.
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
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Following President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to grant an "absolute pardon" to Joseph Pemberton, the murder of Jennifer Laude has once again gained national attention. The focus is on Pemberton as his deportation is finalized after serving just half his sentence for homicide.

According to Duterte, "[the Philippines] hasn't treated Pemberton fairly." His decision was met with opposition from various parties. Pemberton admitted to killing Laude in October 2014, and was convicted after he told the judge he committed the crime out of rage.

Here's a look into the life of Joseph Pemberton before he committed his infamous crime.

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1| Pemberton is another step closer to being released from detention.

On September 11, the Bureau of Corrections turned over Pemberton to the Bureau of Immigration. As of writing, his documents are being finalized so he can be deported back to the United States. According to news reports, the 25-year-old may be deported over the weekend.

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His lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores quoted Pemberton as saying, "I heard the news. I'm very happy," about Duterte's decision.

2| He had a relatively normal childhood.

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on December 13, 1994 to Joseph Pemberton and Lisa D. Pemberton, Joseph Scott Pemberton had a relatively normal childhood.

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In a 2014 interview with The Standard-Times, several family members gave brief statements on Pemberton. His mother said: "His family loves him very much and nothing is going to change that." While his former professional boxer uncle Scott Pemberton only had high praise for his nephew. "I know the kid very well. He’s a really good kid,” he said. "I personally feel there is more to the story."

3| He had no "discipline issues or problems" in school.

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Not much is known about her education, save for the fact that he graduated from Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School (GNB Voc-Tech) with a major in metal fabrication and joining in 2013.

The high school says it arms students with "a unique high school education that blends academic instruction with career and technical education and training" with the addition of "vocational skills that they acquire give them a competitive advantage when entering the workforce."

In a statement, superintendent and director of the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School Linda Enos said that Pemberton had no "discipline issues or problems" while in school. Read her full statement below.

"You are correct, Marine Pemberton did graduate from Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School in 2013. While a student, Mr. Pemberton did not have any discipline issues or problems.  I cannot give you any other information other than that."

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4| He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 2013.

Photo by FACEBOOK/JOSEPH PEMBERTON.

Shortly after graduating from GNB Voc-Tech, Pemberton enlisted with the U.S. Marines. There, he served as an anti-tank missile man of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. In a Facebook post, the then 19-year-old wrote that he left for boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina in August 2013.

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5| He killed trans woman Jennifer Laude months later.

Photo by PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE.

In October 2014, Pemberton was in the Philippines for joint military exercises. His ship was docked at Subic Bay Freeport.

On October 11, 2014, Jennifer Laude died due to "asphyxiation by drowning" in Olongapo motel Celzone Lodge. Earlier that evening, Pemberton and Laude met at the Ambyanz Disco before heading to the motel. A little over 30 minutes after checking in, Pemberton left the motel room with the door unlocked. The motel staff found Laude's naked body slumped over a toilet bowl.

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Security footage placed Pemberton and Laude entering the room together, and later, with Pemberton leaving the motel alone.

6| He admitted to choking Jennifer Laude in a testimony.

In a testimony, he misgendered Laude and admitted to strangling her, saying "I choked it, wrapped my arms around it until it stopped moving, and dragged it toward the bathroom." During the defense at the Regional Trial Court Branch 74 of Olongapo City, his lawyer Garcia-Flores argued that he was deceived by Laude.

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7| The documentary Call Her Ganda outlines the killing and the life of Jennifer Laude.

Call Her Ganda followed activist attorney Virgie Suarez, transgender journalist Meredith Talusan, and Laude's mother Julita "Nanay" Laude as they sought justice and took on some of the most powerful institutions in the world.

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Paolo Chua
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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