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(Updated 2:40 p.m.) Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton on Monday admitted that he choked Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude.
In a tweet, GMA News' Rida Reyes said Pemberton confessed to choking and dragging the victim after discovering that Laude was not biologically female.
Pemberton took the stand at today's hearing at the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74.
Inamin ni Pemberton na sinakal at kinaladkad nya si Jennifer Laude nang madiskubreng hindi ito babae. | via @Rida_Reyes— GMA News (@gmanews) August 24, 2015
The proceedings started at around 9 a.m., earlier than the usual 1 p.m. hearings conducted for the case to give way to Pemberton's testimony, Reyes said in her live report on News To Go.
The hearing was expected to last the whole day, the report added.
Lawyer Harry Roque, private prosecutor of the Laude family, said that the US serviceman admitted he had eight shots of alcohol and six bottles of beer when he and his American buddies went mall- and bar-hopping.
Roque said that according to Pemberton, he met two women at the Ambyanz bar and ended up renting a room at the Celzone Lodge with them.
He said Pemberton testified that Laude's companion performed oral sex on him before Laude herself did the same.
The US soldier testified that when he was about to have actual sex with Laude, he felt the transgender's genital and pushed the victim out of shock.
Pemberton said Laude slapped him on the face, which led him to choke her until he noticed that the Filipino was unconscious.
He said he dragged Laude to the bathroom to run water from the shower over her to help her regain consciousness, but there was no water, so he went out of the room.
Pemberton's turn to testify comes after his mother, Lisa, testified to her son's "good character."
The soldier's lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores had said that during the closed-door trial, Lisa identified letters sent by at least 22 people to show the good character of Pemberton.
Lisa's best friend, Diane Rioux, was quoted as saying in one of the letters that she has "never known him (Pemberton) to exhibit signs of hostility of violence."
Rioux added that Pemberton "has a reputation of 'never hurting a fly.'"
In an earlier News To Go report, Reyes said the prosecution believes the testimony from the mother doesn't carry much weight since it has been a year since Lisa was with her son.
Laude was found dead in the bathroom of the lodge's room in Olongapo City in Oct. 11, 2014. The victim was last seen with Pemberton and their friends in a local bar before heading there.
In February, the RTC Branch 74 entered a not guilty plea for Pemberton after he refused to enter any plea in connection to the killing. —Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/ALG/ELR, GMA News