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Mazzaglia seeks not to attend his 1st-degree murder sentencing

Union Leader Correspondent

August 11. 2014 12:50PM

Seth Mazzaglia, leaves the courtroom for the lunch break after listening to his former girlfriend tell jurors how Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott, was killed during his first-degree murder trial Wednesday, June 4, 2014 in Strafford County Superior Court in Dover. (Pool Photo by Jim Cole/Associated Press)

The public defense attorneys for convicted murderer Seth Mazzaglia have asked the court to allow Mazzaglia to not attend his sentencing hearing Thursday.

The request spurred an immediate objection from prosecutors just days before the parents of murder victim Elizabeth Marriott are expected to speak in front of their daughter’s killer.

A hearing to address Mazzaglia’s attendance at his sentencing has been scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Up to 11 of Marriott’s family members and friends could speak at Thursday’s sentencing, in what has been expected to be a highly emotional hearing in Strafford County Superior Court.

“I’m sure it’s going to be an extremely difficult decision to speak about Lizzi,” Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said July 9, after a status conference. “She meant so much to so many people.”

The brief, one-page motion filed Friday states, “Mr. Mazzaglia exerts his constitutional right to waive his presence at the sentencing hearing,” and cites sections of the national and state constitutions.

The state’s eight-page objection to that request, also filed Friday, said citing constitutional language is not enough.

“The motion does not set forth any actual constitutional, statutory or case law setting forth that a criminal defendant actually has any right to waive his or her presence at a sentencing or other proceeding,” it states. “Notably as well, the motion submitted by the defense is unaccompanied by any valid acknowledgement of rights and/or waiver form signed by (Mazzaglia).”

The state’s objection specifically referred to Marriott’s family.

“The interests of the victims – here, the family of the young woman who the defendant raped and murdered, whose body the defendant disposed of, and whose heinous crimes against the defendant attempted to cover and shift blame through various means – (can) hardly be more compelling than in this case.”

The state noted that many of Marriott’s family members attended proceedings during the lengthy court case, and “acted with dignity and respect” throughout.

“The victims deserve to finally be heard, not just before the court, but before the defendant, in order to explain how his crimes have so fundamentally affected them,” the objection stated.

Mazzaglia’s case file includes a transport order for Mazzaglia, who is in New Hampshire State Prison in Concord, indicating he’ll be present at Tuesday’s hearing on the dispute.

Mazzaglia, 31, was convicted on June 27 of murdering Marriott, a 19-year-old University of New Hampshire student from Westborough, Mass., on Oct. 9, 2012, in the Dover apartment Mazzaglia shared with his former girlfriend, Kathryn McDonough.

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.

He faces an automatic sentence of life without parole on either first-degree murder conviction. A court document filed last month states that the latter charge, involving sexual assault, will be used for sentencing purposes Thursday.

Mazzaglia also was found guilty of conspiracy of falsifying physical evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with witnesses.

McDonough, his former girlfriend, was the state’s key witness. McDonough testified that she was in the apartment with Mazzaglia when he strangled Marriott, with whom McDonough had worked and befriended at a Target store in Greenland.

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