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Grand jury indicts fugitive Marine in woman’s death

(CNN) — A North Carolina grand jury has indicted a Marine on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of a pregnant Marine colleague, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Onslow County, North Carolina, District Attorney Dewey Hudson announced the formal charges against Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

Other indictments against Laurean include financial card theft, attempted financial card fraud, fraud and robbery with a dangerous weapon, CNN affiliates reported.

Investigators say Laurean killed Lauterbach, 20, last month, burned her body and buried it beneath a fire pit in his backyard.

She was eight months’ pregnant and had accused Laurean of raping her.

Hudson said Wednesday that preliminary findings from a military autopsy indicate that the slain Marine’s fetus had not been born alive.

Laurean could face a murder charge involving the fetus, if it had been born alive before Lauterbach died.

The military is conducting further tests on a lung tissue sample to determine whether the fetus’ lungs contained oxygen, he said. If oxygen is found, it would mean that the baby took a breath and that would establish life.

The military asked to conduct a second autopsy on Lauterbach following a state-performed autopsy.

Lauterbach’s family gave its approval for the Marine autopsy, which was completed Tuesday, Hudson said.

Hudson also said the military autopsy involved some procedures not done by the state, including reconstruction of Lauterbach’s skull. The state autopsy indicated that Lauterbach died from a blow to the head, contradicting a note Laurean left his wife saying that Lauterbach slit her throat during an argument.

Additional tests are being conducted to determine if Laurean was the fetus’ father, Hudson said.

Authorities suspect Laurean, 21, fled to his native Mexico, where a cousin said he saw the wanted man near Guadalajara a week ago.

Lauterbach was reported missing December 19, and her charred remains were found January 11 after Laurean’s wife gave police the note from her husband. Laurean wrote that he was frightened and buried the body in the backyard.

The Marine’s note said Lauterbach died December 15; authorities said they believe she was killed December 14.

Hudson also confirmed information from a law enforcement source that Laurean traveled by bus to Mexico. The source said he boarded a bus for Houston, Texas, on January 11, arriving the following afternoon.

In Houston, the source said, the Marine bought a bus ticket to San Luis Potosi, Mexico, probably arriving January 13 in Guadalajara.

In the nearby town of Zapopan, Mexico, Laurean stopped at a liquor store owned by his cousin Juan Antonio Ramos Ramirez. Ramos said that Laurean told him that he was traveling with some buddies for a few days.

I did learn from federal authorities last week that Cesar Laurean left the U.S. and entered Mexico last Sunday morning on a bus, Hudson said. It doesn’t surprise me a relative would have seen him — assuming he is telling the truth — because Laurean has family in Mexico.

Earlier this week, Hudson said he had seen strongly compelling evidence from federal authorities that Laurean was in Mexico. He said he had issued a provisional request to Mexican authorities through the U.S. State Department for the Marine’s arrest.

If Mexican authorities arrest Laurean, Hudson would not be able to seek the death penalty. Mexico, like many countries, will not extradite suspected killers if they face a possible death sentence.
Grand jury indicts fugitive Marine in woman’s death – found here.

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January 24, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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