DOVER — In emotional testimony Tuesday, Kathryn “Kat” McDonough told a silent courtroom that her former boyfriend, Seth Mazzaglia, strangled Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott with a rope while raping her and that she helped cover up the University of New Hampshire sophomore’s death.
Mazzaglia, 31, faces charges of first- and second-degree murder in the Oct. 9, 2012, death of Marriott, 19.
McDonough, 20, said she was in the Dover apartment she shared with Mazzaglia on the night that Marriott died there after a game of strip poker.
In last Wednesday’s opening statements, defense attorney Joachim Barth told jurors it was McDonough, not Mazzaglia, who killed Marriott that night during sexual acts involving bondage and erotic asphyxiation.
McDonough is serving a 1½- to three-year prison term after pleading guilty last July to charges including witness tampering and hindering the investigation.
On Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley initially focused on when McDonough and Mazzaglia met — in the spring of 2011 while in a theater production together in Portsmouth. One of the day’s most intense moments came when Hinckley read an explicit text message Mazzaglia allegedly wrote to McDonough on Aug. 25, 2012, when McDonough was about to come home from a theater-oriented summer camp in Maine, where she was a counselor.
McDonough said she had moved in with Mazzaglia in February 2012, and described a very controlling relationship in which he had access to, and frequently monitored, her social media accounts, laptop and cellphone, while trying to limit the time she spent with family members and male friends.
The Aug. 25, 2012, message extensively detailed violent sexual acts and demands that Mazzaglia had planned for McDonough upon her return from the camp, referring to himself as “lord” and “sire” and to McDonough as “slut” and “whore.”
McDonough said that before she left for the camp, Mazzaglia had asked her to find a “female slave” online to satisfy him while she was away.
McDonough said that upon her return, after she “begged,” Mazzaglia agreed to not commit the act he had described.
“It was just a very rough encounter. There was a lot of hitting,” McDonough said on the stand, wiping her eyes. “It’s hard for me to bring back. It just really bothers me ... Now, looking back on it, it was not something I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t have an option because I knew I messed up.”
That portion of testimony was one of several that addressed McDonough’s and Mazzaglia’s sexual habits of bondage and domination, and what McDonough said were Mazzaglia’s frequent urgings for her to find other women to join them. It was at least partially in that context, McDonough said, that she approached Marriott, whom she met while the two worked at a Target store in Greenland. McDonough said she genuinely liked Marriott from the start.
“I wanted to be her friend,” McDonough said. “I thought she was a really nice and fun individual, but at the same time I also tried to see if she would be someone (Mazzaglia) was looking for.“(Marriott) was a beautiful person ... she was just so happy,” McDonough added later Tuesday. “She never complained about work. Whenever I needed help or anyone needed help, she was always the first one to go.”
McDonough said Mazzaglia first met Marriott when he visited McDonough at the Target store, and later when Marriott visited their apartment on Oct. 2, 2012, to watch “The Avengers” movie with McDonough.
“He told me that she had real potential, and we really ought to get her to come back,” McDonough said.
Hinckley projected on a large screen a text message that he said Marriott sent to McDonough on the afternoon of Oct. 9, 2012, as they made plans for Marriott’s visit that night.
“Did you do anything to help Lizzi that night?” Hinckley asked McDonough at one point, holding up a large photo of Marriott.
“No,” McDonough said, struggling to hold back tears.