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US Marine Appeals Murder Conviction in Death of Transgender Filipino

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FILE - Philippine Bureau of Corrections personnel escort U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (C), after he was found guilty by trial court of killing Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, upon arrival in a detention facility at Camp Aguinaldo

FILE - Philippine Bureau of Corrections personnel escort U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (C), after he was found guilty by trial court of killing Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, upon arrival in a detention facility at Camp Aguinaldo

A U.S. Marine is appealing his conviction in the death of a transgender Filipino woman, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was found guilty of homicide in December for killing Jennifer Laude after he found out she was a transgender woman.

Judge Roline Ginez Jabalde had sentenced Pemberton to six to 12 years in prison, with credit for his confinement, and ordered him to pay nearly $100,000 in damages to the Laude family.

On Wednesday, Pemberton asked a regional trial court judge in Olongapo, northwest of Manila, to reverse his conviction, and sought bail and a reduction of his six- to 12-year jail term, said Rowena Garcia-Flores, the Marine's lawyer.

'Defended himself'

Flores said she would insist that Pemberton did not kill Laude in a motel room after they met in a disco bar in October 2014 and that his sentence should be eased because he surrendered to authorities.

"We're going for an acquittal," Flores told The Associated Press by telephone Wednesday. "[Pemberton] defended himself because he felt he was being conned, but he did not kill Laude."

The court will start to hear Pemberton's appeal on Thursday.

In December, Jabalde convicted Pemberton of homicide, not the more serious charge of murder as prosecutors and the family sought, and sentenced him to a lighter jail term. She said she downgraded the charge because conditions such as cruelty and treachery had not been proven.

FILE - U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, third left, is escorted into the courtroom for his scheduled trial, March 23, 2015, at Olongapo city, Zambales province, northwest of Manila, Philippines.

FILE - U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, third left, is escorted into the courtroom for his scheduled trial, March 23, 2015, at Olongapo city, Zambales province, northwest of Manila, Philippines.

The judge said in her decision that Pemberton did not set out to kill anyone, but instead, in a drunken moment of anger, put Laude in a chokehold, then drowned her in a toilet after he discovered she had a male sex organ.

'I'm not content'

At the time of Pemberton's conviction, Laude’s mother, Julita, said she was glad Pemberton was convicted, but the family wanted the crime to be murder, which carries a prison sentence of at least 40 years.

“I’m not content, but the important thing is he will be imprisoned. Our fight was not a waste . He will be imprisoned. My son did not die in vain," she said of Jennifer Laude.

A woman pays her respects to slain transgender Jennifer Laude inside a funeral home in Olongapo city, north of Manila October 21, 2014. Philippine President Benigno Aquino rejected on Monday calls to tear up the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United S

A woman pays her respects to slain transgender Jennifer Laude inside a funeral home in Olongapo city, north of Manila October 21, 2014. Philippine President Benigno Aquino rejected on Monday calls to tear up the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United S

The killing sparked anger in the Philippines and reignited calls by left-wing groups and nationalists for an end to America's military presence in the country at a time when the United States is reasserting its dominance in Asia and Manila has turned to Washington for support amid an escalating territorial dispute with China.

Pemberton, 21, an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Massachusetts, has been detained at a compound guarded by Philippine and American security personnel, at the main military camp in metropolitan Manila, and not in a civilian jail.

Simone Orendain in Manila contributed to this report.

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