MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A Philippine court has begun the trial of a U.S. Marine charged with murdering a transgender Filipino after allegedly discovering her gender when they checked into a hotel.
A court official says Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton was taken by American escorts to a heavily guarded courtroom for the trial in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila.
Government prosecutors presented their first witness, a hotel worker who identified Pemberton as having been with Jennifer Laude shortly before she was found dead last October in the bathroom of a hotel room.
Prosecutors say they had checked into the hotel after meeting in a bar. Pemberton, from Bristol, Massachusetts, is charged with murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.