UPDATED: Prosecution continues to build groundwork in Mazzaglia murder case
DOVER — Prosecutors and defense attorneys continued to lay their groundwork Thursday morning in the murder trial of Seth Mazzaglia, charged in the 2012 death of Elizabeth "Lizzy" Marriott.
Mazzaglia, 31, faces multiple counts of first-degree murder – based on alternate legal approaches - a second-degree murder charge, and charges of conspiracy and criminal solicitation in Marriott's death.
His former girlfriend, Kathryn “Kat” 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.
In Wednesday's opening statements, defense attorney Joachim Barth told jurors it was McDonough, not Mazzaglia, who killed Marriott during sexual acts of bondage and domination the night of Oct. 9, 2012.
On Thursday morning, prosecutors called several witnesses, including Nathan McNeal, of Portsmouth, who worked with Marriott at Target in Portsmouth, and Marriott’s girlfriend, Brittany Atwood, now of Hudson, Mass.
On the stand, McNeal said he and Marriott remained friends after he left Target to work at Barnes & Noble. He said they would talk – via text during online games – about silly stuff like "plans of world domination and octopuses."
"She was a nerd like I was," McNeal said, adding they both enjoyed playing games, like World of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons.
McNeal said they were “just friends” and that he knew Marriott was involved in a relationship with Atwood. He added Marriott talked about their adventures.
“It seemed very serious to me,” McNeal said, adding he knew Atwood “was a little jealous” of his friendship with Marriott.
Later in the morning, Atwood, now 26, testified that she met Marriott while they were both working at a Stop & Shop and became “romantically involved” in the spring of 2012. She added they would talk – by a variety of means – “every day and multiple times a day all the time.”
“She would tell me everything,” Atwood said, adding Marriott was a friendly, open and trusting person.
“She was beautiful – inside and out,” Atwood said.
During cross examination, Mazzaglia’s attorney Melissa Davis asked Atwood whether she was worried about Marriott finding someone while in New Hampshire, if she was jealous of McNeal or even McDonough.
While she said no at first, Atwood admitted her concerns after seeing evidence of text and phone conversations she had in the past.
Both McNeal and Atwood recalled having conversations with Marriott - via phone and text messages – on Oct. 9, 2012 before losing contact with her around 9 p.m.
Atwood - who last saw Marriott Oct. 7, 2012 – said the conversation – which was “happy” and “silly” - continued until Marriott visited Mazzaglia and McDonough at their apartment. She added she never heard from Marriott again.
She described this as “very unusual” because Marriott “would text me back right away” in the past. She added she attempted to contact Marriott via text, using Facebook, calling her phone – which went to voicemail – and even reached out to Marriott’s parents.
Earlier, McNeal testified he didn't find that unusual until the following day, when Marriott still wouldn't respond to any of his messages.
After police began searching for Marriott, McNeal testified that he texted Kat McDonough – a childhood friend of his sister as well as Mazzaglia's girlfriend – asking her whether she had seen or heard from Marriott and whether Marriott had visited McDonough and Mazzaglia on Oct. 9, 2012.
McNeal testified that McDonough responded that Marriott hadn't come over that night, but she heard how Marriott was missing and was telling the police "everything."
He confirmed how McDonough didn't respond to his next text, which said, "Please tell me you are ignorant of all this," according to phone records introduced into evidence.
The trial resumed after the jury returns from lunch hour around 1:25 p.m.