US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton did not know Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude was a transgender, a witness told the Senate as it opened its own inquiry yesterday into the Oct. 11 killing.
Evidence recovered at the crime scene also indicated anal sex occurred in the hotel room where Laude was found dead, although it has not yet been determined who engaged in the sex.
The Senate foreign relations committee started its probe into the death of Laude in Olongapo City, with the victim’s transgender friend, Mark Clarence “Barbie” Gelviro, narrating the events on the fateful Saturday night.
“Ang alam po ni Pemberton kami ay mga totoong babae (Pemberton thought we were real women),” Gelviro told the committee chaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who later said she considered the evidence against the suspect “damning.”
His face concealed with a purple wrap, Gelviro said Pemberton was the last person seen with Laude before the victim was found dead in the toilet of a motel room.
Forensic experts said Laude suffered severe head injuries and body bruises. The autopsy report said he died of asphyxiation by drowning.
Chief Superintendent Theresa Ann Cid, chief of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, said evidence recovered at the crime scene included strands of hair, two used condoms, blood and urine samples. The PNP is still completing the tests on the evidence.
Told about the condoms, Santiago remarked: “At least we can safely say that the suspect, or what they call in America as a person of interest, ejaculated twice. Would that be correct?”
Cid replied, “Not necessarily, your honor. The first condom has fresh seminal fluid, with fecal material. The second condom seems not to have the presence of semen… Apparently, they were used.”
Chief Inspector Reynaldo Dave, PNP medico-legal officer, said it was safe to say that the condoms were used in anal sex. The police experts, however, said they could not conclude that the semen samples belonged to Pemberton.
“If he was a male, how does he have sex with the Marine?” Santiago asked.
“I just have to corroborate with the findings on condoms and the other pieces of evidence,” Dave replied. “We can safely conclude (anal or rectal sex).”
Santiago said anal sex is “the usual method for transgenders.”
After the hearing, Santiago said the evidence appeared to be “damning” and there was “cruelty” in the killing.
Earlier during the hearing, Laude’s sister Michelle disputed reports that the victim was a sex worker as described by Olongapo police. Michelle said Laude rarely went out of the house.
Asked about the victim’s source of income, Michelle said Laude received a monthly allowance from his German fiancé, Marc Suselbeck.
Gelviro testified that he and Laude met Pemberton at the Ambyanz bar. Gelviro later accompanied the pair to the Celzone Lodge. He stayed with them for about 10 minutes in the rented room before he was told by Pemberton to leave.