US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton. (File photo)
MANILA – US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton on Friday asked the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC Br. 74) to turn down the motion for reconsideration filed by a relative of victim Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude to stop his release from prison.
In a six-page opposition, defense counsel Rowena G. Flores asked the court to deny the motion for reconsideration “for lack of personality to file the same and for lack of merit”.
“The motion for reconsideration is asking the Court to treat Pemberton differently from all other persons convicted by final judgment without any legal basis and in flagrant violation of the equal protection clause,” Pemberton’s counsel said.
The defense also said “since the judgment debt awarded to the private complainant (Laude’s relative) has already been paid and satisfied (the) private complainant has already lost the personality to participate in further proceedings in this case”.
“Allowing the private complainant to still seek any affirmative relief from the Court in relation to Pemberton’s criminal liability, when he has already served his sentence in full, is not in consonance with basic precepts of fairness and equity,” it added.
On Thursday, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has put on hold Pemberton’s release following a motion for reconsideration filed before the court questioning an order granting his liberty.
In a statement, BuCor said it “respects the court processes and will wait for the resolution of the filed motion for reconsideration”.
While the normal release process is on hold, it said Pemberton remains under the custody of BuCor at its extension facility in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Olongapo RTC Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde, in an order dated Sept. 1, ordered Pemberton’s early release, saying he had served the minimum of his sentence for the death of Laude six years ago.
Ginez-Jabalde directed the BuCor to release Pemberton from detention “unless he is being held for some other lawful cause or causes”.
The court said Pemberton served 2,142 days including the 405 days served during his preventive imprisonment. He was also credited with good conduct and time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days for a total of 3,690 days served.
“Accused Pemberton has a total accumulated time served with entitled of GCTA of 10 years, one month and 10 days which is more than the 10-year maximum penalty imposed by this court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA),” the court said.
Pemberton is now entitled to be released for he had already served the 10-year maximum of his penalty, the court added.
The Olongapo RTC also noted an acknowledgment receipt in full of judgment award signed by Marilou Laude Mahait as representative of the heirs of Jennifer Laude stating she received, through lawyer Rowena Garcia, PHP4.65 million in a check from the Pembertons on Aug. 25, 2020.
“Though the payment of civil liability by the accused to the heirs of Jeffrey Laude is separate from his criminal liability, it is worth to note that he had already made a full payment of the damages awarded by this court in the decision dated November 18, 2015 as amended by the Court of Appeals in its April 3, 2017 decision,” the court said.
The amount is broken down as follows: PHP4.32 million for loss of earning capacity, PHP155,000 in actual damages, PHP75,000 award in civil indemnity, PHP75,000 representing moral damages, and PHP30,000 representing the award of exemplary damages.
In a motion for reconsideration filed on Wednesday, the victim’s heirs asked the court not to allow Pemberton’s early release and insisted that the serviceman “failed to show proof of good conduct”. (PNA)