Kathryn McDonough is led from Strafford Superior Court in Dover, N.H. for morning break during her tenth day of cross examination by the defense in the trial of Seth Mazzaglia on Monday, June 16, 2014. Mazzaglia is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2012 death of 19-year-old Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott of Westborough, Mass. (AP Photo, Portsmouth Herald, Rich Beauchesne, POOL))
McDonough testifies she lied to protect ex-boyfriend Mazzaglia
“You could have come in and told us about the supposed truth, about murder, because we were working for (Mazzaglia). Because the guys working for (Mazzaglia), his lawyers, needed to know the truth in order to help him,” defense attorney Joachim Barth said, referring to statements McDonough made in his office on Oct. 15 and 17, 2012, following Marriott’s death Oct. 9 and Mazzaglia’s arrest Oct. 13 that year.
McDonough described during those visits, as seen in a video recording Barth played last week in Strafford County Superior Court, how Marriott died of suffocation and a seizure while having rough sex with McDonough in the Dover apartment McDonough and Mazzaglia shared.
McDonough, 20, reiterated Monday that she was lying to Barth’s legal team at the time, telling a fabricated story of Marriott’s death in order to protect Mazzaglia.
“I didn’t want anyone to know the truth,” McDonough said. “I didn’t want it to get out at all.”
McDonough has testified that Mazzaglia, who is facing first- and second-degree murder charges in his ongoing trial, strangled Marriott from behind with a white cotton rope after a game of strip poker, and after Marriott had said it would not be OK for McDonough and Mazzaglia to have sex in front of her in their apartment.
Barth said Monday that if that’s what had happened, McDonough could have safely told Mazzaglia’s lawyers after Mazzaglia’s arrest.
Instead, Barth maintained that McDonough initially gave them an honest account of her role in Marriott’s death.
“You trusted us with the truth,” Barth said.
“I trusted you guys with a story that was made up off the top of my head,” McDonough replied.
Hampton attorney Andrew Cotrupi, McDonough’s lawyer, said McDonough responded well to the line of questioning.
“She was an easy target before this trial, and she’s an easy target during this trial,” Cotrupi said.
Monday’s proceedings began the fourth week of Mazzaglia’s trial, in which opening statements were given May 28. McDonough had been on the stand nearly continuously since June 3.
After she stepped down, the state’s next witness was Dr. Scott Hampton, a sexual abuse and domestic violence counselor.
Hampton runs Ending the Violence, a Dover center that offers educational programs for offenders, and said he has worked with 4,000 to 5,000 families over 25 years in abuse counseling in Pennsylvania, New York and New Hampshire.
Without once referring directly to Mazzaglia, McDonough or the circumstances surrounding or leading up to Marriott’s death, Hampton spoke about issues seemingly related to the trial under questioning from Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward.
“What do you call a domestic abuse victim who lied to or for her abuser?” Hampton asked. McDonough’s testimony strongly suggested that Mazzaglia was the dominant figure in a controlling relationship, a scenario that Barth has sought to portray as inaccurate.
Hampton said that if you agree or empathize with an abuse victim, you call that person a survivor, while if you disagree, you call that person a statistic.
“The difference between being a survivor and being a statistic can be life and death,” he said. “If you want to know which version is the truth, a good question to start with is, when did the person feel safe?”
Ward, also without using names, asked Hampton how a person could continue to help someone after seeing that person commit a crime.
“She would say, ‘it’s my fault,’” Hampton said. “If I bail out, I have to admit ultimate failure, and lose my relationship. There’s no upside.”
McDonough, 20, has said on the stand that after strangling Marriott, a 19-year-old from Westborough, Mass., Mazzaglia then raped Marriott’s limp body while McDonough was in the room.
When Ward asked if it was possible for someone “to see their abuser murder someone else and still be in love with that person,” Hampton cited an example of a parent witnessing one of their children — a 12-year-old, perhaps — severely injure a sibling.
“I’m not bailing out on that 12-year-old,” Hampton said. “I’m there. …You can’t just turn that off.”
Barth briefly cross-examined Hampton, probing ambiguities or generalizations in the factors and situations he described.
McDonough is serving a 1½- to three-year prison term after pleading guilty last July to charges including witness tampering and hindering the investigation, as part of a plea agreement. She has testified that she helped cover up the murder and rape of Marriott, whose body has never been found.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday, likely with Hampton continuing to answer questions from Barth.