Marriott's parents to face killer at his sentencing next month
DOVER — The parents of murder victim Elizabeth Marriott are expected to speak at the sentencing hearing of her killer on Aug. 14.
Convicted murderer Seth Mazzaglia of Dover will be sentenced in Strafford County Superior Court, in a hearing scheduled by Judge Steven Houran.
Mazzaglia, 31, was convicted on June 27 of murdering the University of New Hampshire student on Oct. 9, 2012, in the Dover apartment Mazzaglia shared with his former girlfriend, Kathryn McDonough. McDonough was the state’s key witness, having testified that she was with Mazzaglia when he strangled Marriott.
His sentencing will begin at 10 a.m. Houran said the court session could be lengthy, citing the potential for several speakers.
“It’s my understanding that it’s not just Ms. Marriott’s parents who wish to appear and be heard,” Houran said.
Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said after Wednesday’s status conference that he couldn’t comment on who might speak at Mazzaglia’s sentencing, but noted that victims’ rights statutes extend beyond parents to close relatives and others.
“I’m sure it’s going to be an extremely difficult decision to speak about Lizzi,” Hinckley said. “She meant so much to so many people.”
After a trial that lasted nearly all of June, a jury found Mazzaglia guilty of two charges of first-degree murder, one for purposely strangling Marriott and the other for committing an act of violent sexual assault on her body before, after or while killing her.
Mazzaglia also was found guilty of conspiracy of falsifying physical evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with witnesses.
Mazzaglia routinely wore a dress shirt and vest during his trial, but appeared in court on Wednesday wearing a green-colored prison outfit and blue slippers.
He was unshaven and walked slowly in shackled ankles. His wrists also were shackled, and his white undershirt hung well below his waist. Mazzaglia faces an automatic sentence of life without parole on the first-degree murder conviction.
Houran also set a tentative date of early November for Mazzaglia’s potential second trial, on a criminal solicitation charge. Mazzaglia allegedly tried in December 2012 to get at least one cellmate at the Strafford County jail to participate in a violent, armed escape prior to his murder trial.
Houran said jury selection for that trial could happen on Nov. 3.
In a foyer outside the courtroom Wednesday, Hinckley gave a simple reason for bringing Mazzaglia to court again, despite his automatic sentence of life without parole for the murder conviction.
“He committed a crime,” Hinckley said. Hinckley said going through with a November trial wouldn’t place an undue burden on the N.H. Attorney General’s Office.
“It’s a trial that could last only about a day,” Hinckley said. “We certainly don’t see it as a waste of resources.”
Hinckley also said a final decision on whether to hold that trial has not been made. Speaking for himself and fellow state prosecutor Geoffrey Ward, Hinckley said it’s “our preference that we actually go through with the trial.” But he acknowledged that there is “disagreement in the office about whether to proceed.”
Hinckley said he didn’t know whether a conviction on the solicitation charge would affect where Mazzaglia was imprisoned or the conditions of his confinement. He said those decisions would be up to prison authorities.
Defense attorney Joachim Barth asked Wednesday that Mazzaglia’s sentencing be delayed in light of the upcoming November trial, but found little support.
“We don’t see any reason to delay the sentencing on the present convictions,” Hinckley said.
Houran agreed, saying, “I don’t see any need to put off sentencing.”
Lizzi Marriott died on Oct. 9, 2012. She worked at a Target store in Greenland with McDonough, who invited her to hang out at McDonough and Mazzaglia’s Dover apartment. According to McDonough’s testimony, Marriott played a game of strip poker with the couple but rebuffed sexual advances by Mazzaglia before he strangled her from behind with a cotton rope.
McDonough testified that Mazzaglia then raped Marriott’s limp body, which the couple dumped in waters off Peirce Island in Portsmouth and has never been found.