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Defense attempts to shift blame to former girlfriend in the death of Elizabeth 'Lizzi' Marriott

Union Leader Correspondent

May 28. 2014 8:24PM
Defense attorney for Seth Mazzaglia, Joachim Barth, delivers his opening arguments in Strafford County Superior Court Wednesday May 28, 2014 in Dover, N.H. Mazzaglia is charged with raping and killing Elizabeth 'Lizzi' Marriott of Westborough, Mass., and dumped the teen's body into the Piscataqua River, which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean. Her body has never been found. In his opening arguments Barth said the state's key wittness Kathryn McDonough is the killer. (AP Photo/Rich Beauchesne/POOL/Portsmouth Herald)

DOVER — It was not 31-year-old Seth Mazzaglia who killed a University of New Hampshire sophomore during a sex act, but Mazzaglia’s 19-year-old girlfriend, who wanted to dominate another female and was “without remorse,” the defense said in opening statements Wednesday.

But Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott, 19, refused Mazzaglia’s offer to become his sex slave or watch him have sex with Kathryn “Kat” McDonough. He said Mazzaglia donned gloves and grabbed a rope he used during acts of bondage with McDonough. With no warning before, no mercy during and no remorse after, Mazzaglia strangled, raped and killed Marriott, Hinckley said.

State prosecutor Peter Hinckley delivers his opening arguments to the jury in the murder trial against Seth Mazzaglia Wednesday May 28, 2014 in Strafford County Superior Court in Dover, N.H. Mazzaglia is charged with raping and killing Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott of Westborough, Massachusetts and dumping the teens body into the Piscataqua River which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean. Her body has never been found. (AP Photo/Rich Beauchesne/POOL/Portsmouth Herald)

“Lizzi never had a chance,” he said, adding it took only moments for her to lose consciousness.

While McDonough’s actions are “inexcusable,” Hinckley said, “she did not rape Lizzi and she did not kill Lizzi — accidentally or otherwise.”

McDonough, who is currently serving 1½ to three years in prison for hindering prosecution, is expected to testify against Mazzaglia as part of a negotiated plea deal.

Mazzaglia is facing murder charges as well as conspiracy and criminal solicitation charges.

Through his attorney, Joachim Barth, Mazzaglia Wednesday acknowledged his part in disposing of Marriott’s body, which has never been found.

Barth said that it was McDonough who used an intense sexual act known as “breath play” to control and regulate Marriott’s breathing while the UNH student was restrained by a harness and Mazzaglia was engaged in sexual acts with both women.

“He did not cause Ms. Marriott’s death. Kat McDonough did and she should be held responsible for it,” Barth said.

Barth said Mazzaglia panicked after being overwhelmed by fear while McDonough went into “self-preservation mode” after Marriott was smothered — not strangled. As a result, he said Mazzaglia engaged in terribly misguided acts — including disposing of Marriott’s body on Peirce Island in Portsmouth — to cover up the death out of love and concern for McDonough.

“Kat McDonough was very much driving this train,” Barth said.

He added: “Her desire was not to dominate Seth, but another woman.”

Hinckley said McDonough was 17 and still in high school when she met Mazzaglia, a decade her senior. He said being dominated by Mazzaglia as part of their relationship helps explain — but not justify — her actions in covering up Marriott’s death.

McDonough and Marriott both worked at Target in Greenland; it was McDonough who invited Marriott the night of Oct. 9, 2012, to the Dover apartment she shared with Mazzaglia.

“He wanted — he demanded — another female to dominate,” Hinckley said of Mazzaglia. “He, the master, was not to be denied.”

Following Barth’s opening statement, Hinckley motioned for Judge Steve Houran to declare a mistrial because the defense referenced suppressed evidence from statements Mazzaglia made to police during an 11-hour interview Oct. 12 and 13, 2013.

Hinckley said the statement “opens the door to inadmissible evidence.”

“That is not what happened during the course of the interview,” Hinckley said, referring to Mazzaglia’s statements about being involved in “breath play.”

After taking a short break to consider the matter, Houran declined the state’s motion, but said prosecutors have the opportunity to present evidence to refute the “misleading” statements.

The trial is scheduled to resume today at 9 a.m. in Strafford County Superior Court.

Crime, law and justice Dover Portsmouth

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