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.
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.
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.
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.