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U.S. Marine Charged With Murder in Transgender Woman's Death

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Image: Activists participate in a protest to seek justice for a Filipino transgender Jeffrey Laude, who also goes by the name Jennifer, outside a justice hall at Olongapo city
Activists seek justice for a transgender woman, Jennifer Laude, outside a justice hall where a preliminary investigation was held in Olongapo, the Philippines, on Oct. 27, 2014. LORGINA MINGUITO / Reuters

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The Philippines on Monday charged a U.S. Marine with murder in the killing of a transgender woman in the Southeast Asian nation, a military spokesman said. Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, 19, was charged in the death of Jennifer Laude in Subic Bay, the Philippines, in mid-October. The pair allegedly met in a bar outside the former U.S. naval base there.

The national police investigated Laude's death and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service got involved when evidence pointed to a U.S. service member being the last person seen with Laude. The investigation provided enough evidence to formally charge Pemberton, said Col. Brad Bartelt, a spokesman for the U.S. Marine Corps Forces.

Prosecutors provided evidence from three of Pemberton's Marine colleagues who went out with him the night Laude was killed. One of them, Marine Lance Cpl. Jairn Michael Rose, said Pemberton later told him that he had attacked and choked the woman he was with after learning she was transgender, The Associated Press reported. "I think I killed a he/she," Pemberton was quoted as having told Rose.

Pemberton, of Bristol, Massachusetts, is being held in a U.S. holding site at Camp Aguinaldo, the military headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon City. He’ll remain under guard by U.S. Marines, Bartelt said in a statement. Pemberton is an anti-tank missileman who enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 2013. He was promoted to his current rank in October.

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