The Philippines has charged a US Marine with the gruesome murder of a transgender woman found drowned in a motel room toilet bowl. Filipino Jennifer Laude, 26, who was born Jeffrey, was found Oct. 11 outside a former US Navy base northwest of Manila, and 19-year-old Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton has been accused of killing her, the AP reports. The New York Times adds that Laude's neck was broken. Back in October, a friend of Laude's testified during a Philippine Senate hearing that Pemberton met the two of them at a bar on the night of the murder, and he "thought we were real women." The friend said the trio went to the motel where Laude was eventually found, and she left Laude and Pemberton alone in the room.
The murder has aggravated ties between the US and the Philippines, Reuters reports; the two just signed a military agreement in April allowing the US to build military facilities and station military ships, planes, and equipment in the Philippines. Pemberton has not been seen in public yet, and some of Laude's loved ones have questioned whether he's still in the country. The prosecution head urged them to come to the arraignment, at which Pemberton must appear. Since late October, he's reportedly been detained at a US facility near the main Philippine army base in Manila, but there has been debate between the US and the Philippines over where American military suspects should be held. The trial court is expected to issue an arrest warrant and an order to place him in jail within a week.