Lurid New Hampshire murder trial details occult, romantic betrayal

Elizabeth Marriott was 19 when she disappeared in October 2012. (Facebook memorial page)

Elizabeth Marriott was 19 when she disappeared in October 2012. (Facebook memorial page)

Ted Siefer, Reuters

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

DOVER, New Hampshire - The government's star witness in the murder trial of Seth Mazzaglia, accused of raping an killing a University of New Hampshire student in 2012, may be lying to avoid a long jail term, Mazzaglia's defense team argued on Wednesday.

The trial, which has riveted the New England state for weeks with details of the occult, sadomasochism and romantic betrayal, entered its final phase on Wednesday with the start of closing arguments.

State prosecutors have charged Mazzaglia, 31, in the murder of Elizabeth Marriott, who was a 19-year old UNH student when she disappeared in October 2012.

The state's star witness is Mazzaglia's ex-girlfriend, Kathryn McDonough, 20. She testified she lured Marriott to the apartment the couple shared as a sex offering to Mazzaglia, but that he strangled her and raped her lifeless body after she rejected his sexual advances.

Mazzaglia has denied the charges and his lawyers have sought to the undermine the credibility of McDonough, portraying her as a manipulator who changed her story to avoid a long prison sentence. Before her plea deal, McDonough first told attorneys that Marriott died from a seizure.

Under the plea agreement, McDonough is serving 18 months to three years in prison for charges that include witness tampering and hindering the investigation.

"She needs this more than anything. You don't think she's willing to lie?" defense attorney Joachim Barth told the jury in Strafford County Superior Court.

The soft-spoken McDonough said she and Mazzaglia put Marriott's body into a suitcase and dropped it into the Portsmouth harbor. Marriott's body has never been recovered.

Over 19 days of testimony, details emerged of a twisted fantasy life shared by the couple that featured multiple personas, tarot cards and visions of taking over the world. Mazzaglia never took the stand.

Mazzaglia is charged with first-degree murder and could face life in prison if found guilty by the jury.


Photos