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US Marine charged with murder in death of transgender woman

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MANILA, Philippines (CNN) — A U.S. Marine has been charged with murder in the death of a transgender woman who was found strangled in a Philippines hotel room in October, a prosecutor said.

Pfc. Scott Pemberton is accused of killing Jeffrey Laude, who was also known as Jennifer, according to prosecutor Emily de los Santos.

Laude’s naked body was found with her head in a toilet in an Olongapo hotel room shortly after midnight on October 12, police said.

Witnesses told police that Pemberton was with Laude at a local disco before the two checked into a hotel on the night of October 11, according to documents seen by CNN.

“We will not accept anything less than justice,” the victim’s sister, Marilou Laude, said.

Pemberton, a 19-year-old from Bristol, Massachusetts, is an anti-tank missileman assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

He remains in custody of the United States per the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces said.

Prior to news of the charge, the Marine Corps said it was “working closely and cooperating fully with the Philippine National Police to ensure a thorough investigation is completed and due process of law is followed.”

Three other Marines from the same unit have been identified as potential witnesses, the Marine Corps Times reported, citing an internal Navy memo on the case.