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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Testimony from grand jury heard in UNH killing

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing.

DOVER – Jurors in the murder trial of a man accused of killing a University of New Hampshire student listened Friday to his ex-girlfriend’s grand jury testimony last year of what she says happened the night 19-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott was raped and strangled.

Kathryn McDonough, 20, sat in the witness chair as prosecutors played the tape of her February 2013 testimony, in which she says Seth Mazzaglia strangled Marriott when she rejected his sexual advances and then raped her motionless body.

McDonough, who spent her ninth day on the witness stand Friday, has said her grand jury testimony marked the first time after the killing that she told the truth about Mazzaglia.

Lawyers for the 31-year-old Mazzaglia, charged with first-degree murder, told jurors in opening statements that it was McDonough who killed Marriott during rough sex using restraints but later shifted the blame to Mazzaglia.

Defense attorney Joachim Barth has questioned McDonough extensively about whether she concocted the story blaming Mazzaglia to get years off her own sentence for hindering prosecution, witness tampering and conspiracy. She is serving a 11⁄2 to three-year prison term.

“Are you afraid your plea bargain will fall like a house of cards if you admit the lies you told the grand jury,” Barth asked Friday.

“I didn’t lie to grand jury, so why would I worry?” she replied.

McDonough testified she was facing charges but had no plea deal in place when she told a grand jury what happened the night Marriott died. She testified before the grand jury and at trial that Mazzaglia killed and raped Marriott on Oct. 9, 2012.

Lawyers on both sides agree jurors’ perception of McDonough’s credibility is critical to Mazzaglia’s fate.

Marriott was killed in the Dover apartment Mazzaglia and McDonough shared. McDonough says she and Mazzaglia dumped her body into a river. It has not been found.

Mazzaglia was arrested Oct. 13, 2012. Two days later, McDonough told his defense team that she and Mazzaglia were both having sex with Marriott using rope restraints and breath-stopping techniques when Marriott had a seizure and died. McDonough testified at trial she concocted that story to protect Mazzaglia because she was still in love with him.

Barth asked her why she seemed to be having a difficult time answering questions about her statement to them.

“They were lies,” McDonough said Friday. “I’m not making it up. I’m trying to say what happened. I don’t’ want him to get away with this murder and go out and do it again.”

Strafford County Superior Court Judge Steven Houran told jurors at the outset of the trial May 28 to expect it to last two to three weeks. He revised that estimate Friday, telling them he expects the trial to go well into the week of June 23.

McDonough returns to the witness stand Monday.