Editor's note: This story was originally published Dec. 1 on MarineCorpsTimes.com.
A U.S. Marine was convicted, imprisoned and fined on Tuesday in a Philippines court for killing a Filipino transgender woman last year after he learned of her sexual status in a local hotel room.
Pfc. Joseph Pemberton, who was on a break in October 2014 after participating in joint military exercises in the country, was found guilty of homicide by strangling Jennifer Laude and dunking her head into a toilet in the hotel they had checked into after meeting in a disco in Olongapo City, northwest of Manila. He was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison, with time already spent in detention credited, said court clerk Gerry Gruspe, the Associated Press reported.
According to Reuters, the Olongapo City regional trial court also ordered Pemberton to pay about 4.5 million pesos ($130,000) to Laude's family for loss of earning capacity.
The Philippine Star newspaper reported that Pemberton also was ordered to pay 155,255 pesos ($3,300) to pay for the wake and burial of the victim, 50,000 pesos ($1,000) for "moral damages" and 30,000 pesos ($600) for "exemplary damages."
aude's mother Julita Cabillan told the AP that while she was happy with the verdict, she was not pleased with the jail term, which was less than if Pemberton had been found guilty of murder, a more serious crime than homicide, which does not require malicious intent.
"No amount of money could pay for the years I spent raising my child," Cabillan told reporters. "What they did to my child was gruesome. Just because we are poor doesn't mean we can't fight for justice."
Laude's sister Malou told Reuters the verdict was "not quite a victory. We expected a murder conviction but instead got homicide. We are not contented with the decision."
According to Reuters, Pemberton had admitted in court to fighting with, but not killing, Laude. He told the court he acted in self-defense after he discovered that a man, not a woman, was performing a sexual act on him.
he case has sparked renewed controversy over U.S. military presence in the country. According to the AP, activists outside the courthouse warned that they would closely watch to ensure Pemberton is detained in a Philippines jail.
Pemberton, an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Mass., was one of thousands of American and Philippine military personnel who participated in a joint exercise last year. He and a group of other Marines were on leave after the exercise and met Laude and her friends at a bar in Olongapo City, which is located near Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base. According to the AP, at least two witnesses testified that Laude was a sex worker.
Pemberton and Laude left the bar and checked in together at a nearby hotel. About 30 minutes later, the AP reported, Pemberton walked out, leaving the room's door ajar, according to hotel staff.
According to Reuters, Pemberton will be temporarily held in the national penitentiary south of Manila, until the Philippines and U.S. governments agree on where he should serve his sentence, as prescribed under a visiting forces agreement.
he agreement, the AP reported, says the Philippines can prosecute U.S. servicemembers, but that the U.S. has custody over them "from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings."
However, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that convicted U.S. personnel must serve their sentences in the Philippines. In a compromise last year, the U.S. agreed to have Pemberton detained in a compound at Philippine military headquarters in Quezon City guarded by U.S. Marines with an outer ring of Filipino forces.