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Jury visits four area sites Tuesday in preparation for Marriot murder trial this week

Union Leader Correspondent

May 27. 2014 8:16PM
Joachim Barth, one of the public defenders representing Seth Mazzaglia, stands on an overlook where the body of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Marriott was cast into the water below after her strangulation in 2012 as the jury on Tuesday viewed four sites, including Peirce Island in Portsmouth. (JOHN QUINN/Union Leader Correspondent)

DOVER — The jury visited four sites Tuesday as Seth Mazzaglia prepared to go on trial in connection with the death of Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott.

Prosecutors allege the 31-year-old strangled and/or suffocated Marriott, 19 — a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire in Durham — at his Mill Street apartment on the night of Oct. 9, 2012, before, during or after committing aggravated felonious sexual assault.

“The purpose of the view is to make the testimony you hear during the trial more understandable,” Judge Steve Houran told jurors.

Mazzaglia, his attorneys, the prosecution, the judge and court staff accompanied 16 jurors as they traveled to Mazzaglia’s and his former girlfriend Kathryn “Kat” McDonough’s Mill Street apartment building. From there, they drove the back roads — Back River Road and Piscataqua Road through Madbury, Durham and Dover — to Route 16 south and on to Peirce Island in Portsmouth.

At the overlook, Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward pointed out where investigators found drag marks on the gravel trail and hairs determined to be Marriott’s near the edge of the cliff over the Piscataqua River. Marriott’s body has never been found.

The group then traveled to see a Dumpster at the Residence Inn at Pease International Tradeport, where prosecutors say a tarp and a suitcase used to transport Marriott were found.

They drove across the General Sullivan Bridge, where Marriott’s destroyed phone and GPS were tossed, and to the Mast Road parking lot in Durham, where Marriott’s vehicle was recovered.

Mazzaglia’s attorney, Joachim Barth, advised jurors to consider that McDonough chose the route from the Dover apartments to Portsmouth, thought to dispose of Marriott’s body on the trails at Peirce Island Park and remembered to destroy Marriott’s cellphone and GPS.

McDonough, who is serving 1½ to three years in prison for hindering prosecution, is expected to testify against Mazzaglia as part of a negotiated plea deal she reached with the state in July.

Ward said the state plans to start presenting evidence this morning; each side will have up to an hour to present opening statements.

The state plans to introduce “limited evidence” from a 2013 interview with Mazzaglia and has “clearly indicated that it would offer the hand-drawn map into evidence,” according to court records.

The map, which Mazzaglia allegedly provided to investigators, described where Marriott’s body was dumped off Peirce Island in Portsmouth after her death.

Mazzaglia, who’s been held at Strafford County Jail without bail, is facing multiple counts of first-degree murder — based on alternate legal approaches to the matter — a second-degree murder charge, conspiracy and criminal solicitation.

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