The United States Marine convicted of killing a transgender woman in the Philippines has been released early from prison and deported on Sunday after receiving an “absolute and unconditional pardon” from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, 25, spent almost six years behind bars for the 2014 murder of 26-year-old Jennifer Laude in a motel room, CNN reports. Pemberton told police that he choked Laude to death after learning she was transgender. Laude was found with her head in a toilet in a hotel room she checked into with Pemberton.
As a result of the pardon, Pemberton deported shortly before 9 a.m. on Sunday, boarding a military cargo plane headed for the U.S., according to the Philippines Bureau of Immigration. “The Bureau saw he was a risk to public safety,” they said in a statement seen by CNN, and he is permanently banned from the country.
“All legal proceedings in the case took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement reported by the New York Times. “Lance Corporal Pemberton fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts, and he departed the Philippines on Sept. 13.”
Edra Olalia, the president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, called the pardon “unbelievable,” and Pemberton’s release sparked peaceful protests.