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Pemberton, convicted for slay of Jennifer Laude, ordered freed

A court in Olongapo has ordered the early release of American soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted for killing Jennifer Laude in 2014.

In an order dated September 1, Judge Roline Ginez-Abalde said Pemberton is "entitled to to be released for he had already served the 10-year maximum of his penalty."

Despite only being five years into his prison term of six to 10 years, Pemberton was ordered released because the judge took into account the good conduct time allowances (GCTA) he had accumulated while detained.

The court said Pemberton had served a total of 2,142 days and earned 1,548 GCTAs. Taken together, this amounts to 3,690 days, or 10 years, one month, and 10 days -- more than the 10-year maximum penalty imposed on him, the court said.

The court also said that Pemberton has already made a "full payment" of millions of pesos in damages to Laude's heirs.

Laude's family has asked the trial court to reconsider the release order.

They said there is no proof of Pemberton's supposed good behavior. Pemberton is detained at Camp Aguinaldo.

"His conduct was never put to test as he never joined other convicts. Had he served his sentence in National Bilibid, maybe his application for good conduct would have some basis," they said in a motion for reconsideration.

The Supreme Court recently granted Pemberton's withdrawal of his petition to reverse his conviction. The case has been declared "closed and terminated."

Laude, a 26-year-old transgender woman, was found dead in the bathroom of the Celzone Lodge room in Olongapo City on October 11, 2014.

Pemberton was convicted in 2015. His conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Good conduct time allowance

GCTAs are deductions to the sentence of a prisoner who complies with jail or prison rules. There are also time allowances for loyalty and for study, teaching, or mentoring.

Authorities revised the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law on GCTAs last year, following controversy surrounding the reported early release of convicts of heinous crimes due to GCTAs.

The revised IRR excludes recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and those charged with heinous crimes from earning time allowances and credit for preventive imprisonment.

It adopts the definition of heinous crimes provided by the repealed death penalty law, which lists the following crimes: treason, piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence, destructive arson, rape, plunder, some drug-related offenses, and carnapping with rape or homicide.

The manual that will guide the BuCor in granting GCTAs following the revision of the IRR was "for finalization" as of April this year. -NB, GMA News