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AG seeks to unseal evidence in Lizzie Marriott murder case

Special to the Union Leader

March 02. 2014 6:39PM

DOVER — The state Attorney General's Office recently filed a 128-page memorandum of law with the Strafford County Superior Court to support their objection to the suppression of evidence and interviews in the homicide case against Seth Mazzaglia, 30, of Dover.

Mazzaglia is facing multiple counts of first-degree murder positing alternate theories of the crime in addition to a second-degree murder charge, conspiracy and criminal solicitation. Mazzaglia is charged with strangling and/or suffocating Elizabeth "Lizzie" Marriott, 19, in his Mill Street apartment on the night of Oct. 9, 2012, before, during or after committing aggravated felonious sexual assault.

The filing follows a two-day suppression hearing held in front of Judge Kenneth Brown on Feb. 11 and Feb. 12 at the Strafford County Superior Courthouse. The state called nine witnesses, including State Police Sgt. Joseph Ebert who was the primary interviewer during the nearly 12 hours Mazzaglia spent with investigators between Oct. 12 and Oct. 13, 2012.

Argues for suppression

Mazzaglia cited numerous reasons why statements he made during those interviews, as well as physical evidence garnered through those interviews, should be suppressed, and the state presented as many arguments in support of retaining the statements and evidence.

The state argued Mazzaglia's Miranda rights were not violated when he gave statements to police indicating he was involved in Marriott's death, or when he led them to Peirce Island in Portsmouth and described where her body had been put into the water, because he was not in police custody in the time, but was instead someone who might have had information relating to a missing persons case.

Marriott was reported missing by her family on Oct. 10, 2012, and family and friends scoured the roads from Durham to Dover, putting up signs and asking everyone to look out for her. Mazzaglia's arrest for her murder was announced on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Mazzaglia and his live-in girlfriend, Kathryn "Kat" McDonough, 19, initially told police Marriott never made it to their apartment as planned to meet McDonough on the night of Oct. 9, according to the memorandum.

Throughout the hours of Oct. 12 and into the morning of Oct. 13, Mazzaglia's story changed multiple times, police said. At first he stuck with the story that Marriott had never arrived and denied any sexual activity had taken place. About 90 minutes into the interview, he asked Ebert if something accidental to Marriott had occurred, what would happen to those involved.

As the night went on, the story evolved. At one point, he implicated friend Roberta Gerkin and her boyfriend, Paul Hicock of Rochester, whom police later spoke with.

The two said McDonough had called them in a panic from Mazzaglia's phone and asked them to come over. When they arrived at the Mill Street apartment, they saw a naked girl on the floor wearing only underwear with a plastic bag around her face and head and visual contusions on her neck. Mazzaglia allegedly told them he had "gone too far," according to the filing.

At one point, Mazzaglia told police he had blacked out and did not recall what happened, but believed it to be something bad.

McDonough ended her interview around 7 p.m. by asking for a lawyer. According to the recently filed memorandum of law, she was visibly shaken after police asked her about Gerkin and Hicock.

Missing person's case

About four hours in, Mazzaglia drew a map to Marriott and then drove with police to Peirce Island, where the next morning police found strands of human hair on the ground between the sitting area and the cliff at the top of the main footpath, according to the filing.

About 1:30 a.m., after Mazzaglia had led police to Pierce Island and told them that is where he had put her in the water, and after giving various stories about what may have happened to Marriott, Mazzaglia was read his Miranda rights and placed under arrest, the filing indicates. Around 3:21 a.m., he asked for an attorney. In a dumpster outside of the Mill Street apartment, police found women's clothing, red-stained tissues, a used condom, a pair of men's underwear, rubber gloves and work gloves.

According to the state, even if the court were to find a Miranda violation, it should not grant the motion to suppress because there existed a patent urgency to find a missing person.

So far the audio recordings of the interviews have remained under seal.

It is unclear when Brown will rule on the motion to suppress.

A final pretrial hearing is scheduled for late April, and the trial against Mazzaglia is scheduled to begin in May.

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