Seth Mazzaglia, who is charged with killing UNH student Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott and dumping her body in the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, gets led out of the courtroom during day three of his murder trial at Strafford County Superior Court in Dover, N.H., on May 30, 2014. Marriott's body has never been found. (AP Photo, Union Leader, David Lane POOL)
DOVER — A former friend of Seth Mazzaglia testified Friday that he told her he blacked out and woke up to find a dead University of New Hampshire student in his apartment, but was “very calm” about what he found.
Mazzaglia, 31, faces charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and conspiracy and criminal solicitation in the Oct. 9, 2012, death of Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott, a 19-year-old UNH student.
On Friday, prosecution witness Roberta Gerkin, of Rochester, who previously worked as a psychic and tarot card reader, said she became a friend of Mazzaglia after meeting him in 2011.
Gerkin testified she and her boyfriend — Paul Hickok – went to Mazzaglia’s Dover apartment around 11 p.m. on Oct. 9 after being called by Mazzaglia’s then-girlfriend, Kathryn “Kat” McDonough, who asked her to come over.
When Gerkin and Hickok got to the Mill Street apartment, Gerkin recalled on the stand that Mazzaglia said to her outside the building that he had “gone too far” or “things got out of hand.”
Once inside, Gerkin testified, she saw a woman’s body on the floor lying naked and on her back next to the bed. She added she could tell that it was a woman even though the face was covered by plastic grocery bags.
“My reaction was numb,” Gerkin said, adding she believes she “switched into logical mode.”
After Mazzaglia ripped open the multiple layers of plastic bags, Gerkin said she didn’t recognize the woman, but she noticed the stark color of her face.
“Her head was purple,” Gerkin said, recalling how pale the rest of the body was in contrast.
Gerkin testified that she was given no explanation why the bags were on the woman’s face. She testified that Mazzaglia told her that he had blacked out and found the woman in his apartment.
“Remorseful goes a little too far,” Gerkin said, when asked about Mazzaglia’s demeanor that night, adding it was “like he broke something he shouldn’t.”
Gerkin said she recalled that McDonough remained in the kitchen sitting on the floor, holding her knees and rocking back and forth.
She testified that she and Hickok left after feeling about 70 percent confident that Mazzaglia would call an ambulance.
“As someone who I considered to be a friend, I wanted to give him the opportunity to do the right thing,” Gerkin said.
Earlier Friday, Judge Steven Houran denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial after Gerkin testified that if left unchecked, Mazzaglia’s alleged persona “Doomsday” could kill people.
Houran said he would instruct jurors to ignore two questions and the corresponding answers — both of which would be stricken from the record. He said it is not evidence and should not be considered.
“It is as if it doesn’t exist,” Houran told jurors.
Gerkin testified that 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.” It lasted a few days or less than a week, she testified. She added it served as “a release” for Mazzaglia, whom she described as being like an electrical devise that would overload.
The defense motion for the mistrial came after Gerkin, who remained friends with Mazzaglia, 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 said “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 standing 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.”
McDonough, Mazzaglia’s former girlfriend, is serving 1½ to three years in prison for hindering prosecution and 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 that night.