UPDATED: Mazzaglia jury instructed to disregard testimony involving actions of alleged “Doomsday” persona; mistrial motion denied
DOVER — Judge Steven Houran denied a defense motion for a mistrial after a former friend of Seth Mazzaglia who was called to his apartment after Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriot was killed in 2012 testified Friday that when left unchecked, Mazzaglia’s alleged persona “Doomsday” could kill people.
Mazzaglia's lawyers objected twice during the testimony, with their first objection overruled and the judge ordering a brief recess after the second before hearing arguments regarding the objection and a motion for a mistrial.
After deciding the previous rulings stand, Houran determined the objections about the testimony were “inadequate for a mistrial.”
Houran said he would instruct jurors to ignore two questions and the corresponding answers - both of which would be stricken from the record. He added it is not evidence and should not be considered.
“It is as if it doesn’t exist,” Houran told jurors.
Mazzaglia, 31, faces charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and conspiracy and criminal solicitation in the October 2012 death of Marriott, a 19-year-old University of New Hampshire student.
Friday morning, prosecution witness Roberta Gerkin, of Rochester, who previously worked as a psychic and tarot card reader, said she first met Mazzaglia – who introduced himself as “Lex” - during a “Haunted Halloween” event at the Governor’s Inn in Rochester during the fall of 2011.
Gerkin said Mazzaglia was “one of the actors” at the event while she served as a psychic and read tarot cards. She added they became friends after having “a very spiritual, intellectual conversation” for a few hours at the event.
As a result of the connection, Gerkin said they had “a short sexual relationship at the very beginning,” but it only lasted a few days or less than a week. She added it served as “a release” for Mazzaglia, who she described as being like an electrical devise which would overload.
Gerkin, who remained friends with Mazzaglia after he became involved with McDonough, said she knew he used three personas, which she learned about shortly after meeting him.
“The one who was in control most of the time was Dark Heart,” Gerkin said, adding he also used the personas “Cyrus” and “Doomsday.”
“Doomsday was more of an event than a persona,” Gerkin said, adding Doomsday was the “short circuit” she previously described.
If unchecked and “things didn’t go his way,” Gerkin explained “people would be dead.”
Gerkin testified that it appeared to her that Mazzaglia was the “dominating force” in his relationship with McDonough.
“The relationship seemed like the damsel in distress and the rescuer,” Gerkin said, adding McDonough was “the damsel” who wanted to stay in good graces with Mazzaglia - her rescuer.
When McDonough went away to a drama camp, Gerkin said she received several messages from Mazzaglia when he didn’t hear from his girlfriend during “scheduled check-in times.”
“There was a lot of anxiety,” Gerkin said, adding she could have perceived it as jealousy, but it was more anxiety.
If McDonough was out of contact with Mazzaglia for too long, Gerkin said “basically bad things would happen.”
At least twice during her testimony in the morning, the defense made objections which caused the jury to be excused and Gerkin to step down while the judge and attorneys discussed the matter.
Mazzaglia’s attorney, Joachim Barth, said the evidence did not include “any statements” of conversations between Gerkin and Mazzaglia that indicated Gerkin had knowledge of Mazzaglia's alleged personas.
“It is tenuous, groundless and has not been provided in previous discovery,” Barth said.
Houran said the defense’s objections would be retained on the record during the testimony.
Prosecutors continued to argue that Gerkin’s testimony was included in prior statements and evidence provided during the discovery portion of the case
Barth argued that the evidence – especially the transcripts of interviews of witnesses – does not support the state’s line of questioning or Gerkin’s testimony about “Doomsday” and “homicidal tendencies.”
As the testimony cannot be retracted, Barth said it is “grossly prejudicial to Mr. Mazzaglia.”
Mazzaglia’s 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.
Marriott’s body has not been found. Prosecutors say Mazzaglia and McDonough dumped her body in the Piscataqua River.
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.