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Witness testifies he saw Marriott’s body

Union Leader Correspondent

June 18. 2014 8:09PM
Paul Hickok of Rochester, N.H, testifies about seeing the body of a woman believed to be 19-year-old college student Elizabeth Marriott during of the trial of Seth Mazzaglia at Strafford County Superior Court in Dover, N.H., on Wednesday. Mazzaglia is on trial charged will killing Marriott in October of 2012. (AP Photo/David Lane/Union Leader/POOL)

DOVER — A Rochester resident testified Wednesday that he saw Seth Mazzaglia sitting next to a dead body in his Dover apartment with his head in his hands, saying “he had gone too far,” on the night Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott died.

“All he had kept repeating was he had gone too far this time, he’d gone too far,” Paul Hickok said in Strafford County Superior Court, where he was the last of five witnesses to take the stand in Mazzaglia’s trial.

Hickok said he and his girlfriend, Roberta Gerkin, were at their home in Rochester’s Gonic neighborhood on Oct. 9, 2012, when they received a call from Kathryn “Kat” McDonough, who lived at the time in Mazzaglia’s Sawyer Mill home.

“(McDonough) told Roberta that she needed some help — help with what, I don’t know, but she needed some help,” Hickok said. “So Roberta and I got in the car, and we headed that way.”

Hickok said Mazzaglia gave few details about the situation as he and Gerkin walked up to Mazzaglia’s apartment on the night of Marriott’s death.

“He asked me if I could keep a secret,” Hickok said. “My response was, ‘Depends on what the secret is.”

Hickok said that when he entered the apartment, a body “was laying there, with bags over the head.”

He said the plastic shopping bags were tied tightly enough to leave marks on the neck, which he saw after he and Gerkin asked for the bags to be untied.

He said Mazzaglia appeared “very confused” as he sat on a futon next to the body.

“I do remember him talking about they were watching a movie … the story kept ending at that point,” Hickok said. “He did say to me he had blacked out, and that’s when he said he had gone too far.”

Mazzaglia, 31, faces first- and second-degree murder charges in the death of Marriott, 19, a University of New Hampshire student from Westborough, Mass.

Prosecutors allege that Mazzaglia strangled Marriott to death after she rebuffed his sexual advances following a game of strip poker.

Defense attorneys have accused McDonough of killing Marriott that night during rough sex that led to suffocation and a seizure.

“Kat, for the most part, spent the time that we were there in the kitchen leaned up … against the counter, curled in a ball, crying,” Hickok said.

Hickok said he and Gerkin were in the apartment for no more than 30 minutes.

“At the point where (Mazzaglia) just kept sitting on the couch saying he had gone too far, we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere,” Hickok said. “I just grabbed Roberta and we left.”

Hickok said he and Gerkin urged Mazzaglia to call for help before leaving.

“The last time that we mentioned it to him, he said that he would (call),” Hickok said.

Hickok said he and Gerkin went directly home.

Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward asked Hickok why he didn’t call for help then or in the days after.

“The biggest reason that we didn’t do anything was to give (Mazzaglia) the opportunity to do it himself,” Hickok said.

Hickok said that after he and Gerkin realized on Oct. 11 that Marriott had been named a missing person, they “decided to do something,” but police came to their home before he acted.

“Lo and behold, by the time I came home from work Friday, we didn’t have to go anywhere — they came to us,” Hickok said.

He said he gave recorded statements to police that weekend.

McDonough has testified that after Mazzaglia strangled Marriott, he raped her limp body. McDonough has said she then helped Mazzaglia pack Marriott’s body into a suitcase and drive Marriott’s car to Peirce Island, where she said they pushed Marriott’s body into waters known for their strong currents.

State Police Sgt. Sara Hennessey testified that she had interviewed McDonough in a Newington police station on Oct. 12, 2012.

Hennessey said McDonough told her and another officer that she hadn’t seen Marriott on Oct. 9, despite their plans to shoot photos in a Dover cemetery. Hennessey testified, under questioning by defense attorney Joachim Barth, that McDonough said she went to the cemetery alone.

Hennessey said McDonough became much less talkative after Hennessey asked whether she had seen Gerkin and Hickok that night.

“The color drained from her face,” Hennessey said. “Her tongue got real thick, and she got real quiet.”

McDonough is serving a 1½- to three-year prison term after pleading guilty last July to charges that included 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.

The trial resumes at 10 a.m. Thursday.

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