The state's key witness Kathryn McDonough testifies Friday in Strafford County Superior Court in Dover, N.H. McDonough has been on the witness stand for nine days as she testifies against her former boyfriend Seth Mazzaglia who is charged with killing Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott after she refused his sexual advances. (AP Photo/Jim Cole/POOL)
Mazzaglia defense continues to pick away at ex-girlfriend in her ninth day of testimony
DOVER — Kathryn “Kat” McDonough told a grand jury in February 2013 that she thought about killing herself and “didn’t think there was anything left for me” the morning after University of New Hampshire student Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott died in the apartment McDonough shared with accused murderer Seth Mazzaglia, according to an audio recording played in court Friday.
Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley played an hour-long portion of McDonough’s grand jury testimony after a discussion with Judge Steven Houran and Mazzaglia’s public defenders, in an effort to circumvent additional objections related to questions based on incomplete context.
Houran said that while he was concerned about the length and pace of the trial — which he said Friday could continue “probably well into the week of June 23” — he couldn’t let that override the proper presentation of evidence related to McDonough’s credibility, which he said had been “directly attacked” by Mazzaglia’s defense.
The result was that the jury and others in the courtroom, including Marriott’s parents and other family members, had to continue hearing brutal details about the night of Marriott’s death on Oct. 9, 2012, described by McDonough, again.
In the recording, McDonough told the grand jury in February 2013 that after pushing Marriott’s body into water off Peirce Island in Portsmouth and leaving Marriott’s car at UNH, she and Mazzaglia walked for two hours from Durham to Dover and returned to their Sawyer Mill apartment exhausted, hungry and dehydrated.
“All I wanted to do was just curl up and just…have it over with,” McDonough said. “I actually had suicidal thoughts at that time. I just didn’t think there was anything left for me.”
She told the grand jury that Mazzaglia “was being very caring, as well as being very strict and demanding” on the morning of Oct. 10, 2012, when, McDonough said, he cooked food for her shortly before he “demanded sex” while she remained in bed.
Mazzaglia, 31, faces first- and second-degree murder charges in the death of Marriott, a 19-year-old from Westborough, Mass.
The text of McDonough’s grand jury testimony scrolled directly in front of Mazzaglia’s face Friday afternoon, as he silently sat in front of a large projector screen while McDonough’s recorded voice filled the courtroom.
Friday was McDonough’s ninth day on the stand. The trial began late last month.
McDonough testified last week that she was sitting next to Marriott when Mazzaglia began strangling her from behind with a rope, and that Mazzaglia then raped Marriott’s limp body.
“Seth really has two sides to him — he’s got a really good side and a really bad side, and they kind of switched on and off,” McDonough said in the recording. “As soon as he pulled the rope over her head, I could see all the energy in the air change and I knew that it had gone bad.”
Defense lawyer Joachim Barth has accused McDonough, 20, of killing Marriott during a night of rough sex that caused suffocation and possibly a seizure.
McDonough has testified that she initially lied to investigators and others. In attempts to protect Mazzaglia, she has said, she repeatedly told a fabricated story about rough sexual contact that led to the “accident” of Marriott’s death.
McDonough’s voice was heard in recordings Friday in Strafford County Superior Court.
In a secretly taped conversation on Nov. 7, 2012, McDonough told Rochester resident Roberta Gerkin that, “I think it’s going to be played up as a sexual thing gone bad,” referring to Marriott’s death.
Gerkin, a friend of Mazzaglia’s, had testified earlier that she and her boyfriend went to the apartment Mazzaglia shared with McDonough on the night of Marriott’s death and she saw a body on the floor.
McDonough said Friday that she did not know that Gerkin was cooperating with police and recording their conversation.
Hinckley also played a taped conversation between McDonough and Gerkin on Oct. 26, 2012. McDonough referred to one of Mazzaglia’s several adopted personas.
“It just sucks sitting here knowing that there’s… the actual truth,” McDonough said to Gerkin. “Dark Heart and I are probably the only ones who will ever really know, and that’s it.”
McDonough is serving a 1½- to three-year prison term after pleading guilty last July to charges including witness tampering and hindering the investigation, as part of a plea agreement. She has testified that she helped cover up the murder and rape of Marriott, whose body has never been found.
Hinckley concluded his re-direct questioning Friday. Defense attorney Joachim Barth then began his second cross examination, and asked McDonough again about why she has never testified — to the grand jury or in the current trial — about when, specifically, she and Mazzaglia created their story of an accidental death for Marriott. Earlier this week, Barth asked McDonough extensively about the time period between Marriott’s death and Mazzaglia’s arrest on Oct. 13.
McDonough said she couldn’t recall when they crafted the story, saying it wasn’t a prolonged effort.
“It was just a generalized thing,” McDonough said. “It was (bondage and sexual dominance) gone wrong, that ropes were involved and that she suffocated by accident. That’s what the plan B was.”
Barth has maintained that the “plan B,” or some version of it, is actually the truth.
He asked McDonough again Friday about the agreement she reached with prosecutors in July 2013.
“Are you afraid that your plea bargain will fall like a house of cards if you admit to the lies you told the grand jury?” he asked.
“I didn’t tell any lies to the grand jury, so why would I worry about it?” McDonough replied.
As the trial ended its third week, Houran acknowledged it was running longer than initially expected and praised the jury, saying the group of nine women and seven men “has shown a remarkable ability to stay focused and attentive throughout the trial, including the eight-plus days of (McDonough’s) testimony.”
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Monday.