Convicted murderer Seth Mazzaglia received the maximum sentence Thursday for all charges he faced in the October 2012 rape and murder of UNH student Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott, after an emotional hearing in which 13 of Marriott's family and friends spoke about a wonderful young woman and the indescribable loss with which they continued to struggle.
“I miss Lizzi every day,” said Melissa Marriott, Lizzi's mother. “Even after 22 months, I still have trouble comprehending that she's never coming home.”
Bob Marriott, Lizzi's father, read two poems his daughter had written, called Mazzaglia a “pathetic” coward and said the affect of her murder on his family has been “catastrophic.”
Bob Marriott, the last member of the Marriott family to speak, walked slowly around the courtroom holding the enlarged photo of Lizzi that was shown throughout Mazzaglia's nearly month-long trial in June.
The rows of people in the overflowing gallery were silent as he held the photo high for everyone, including Mazzaglia, to see.
“I call this ‘Dad's Exhibit 1,'” Bob Marriott said. He then explained that the full version of the photo – which when cropped for use in the trial showed only Lizzi's face and beaming smile – showed her gently holding a frog that she had rescued from the family pool that day, Mother's Day.
The family always took the cover off the pool on Mother's Day, Bob Marriott said. Lizzi, a 19-year-old from Westborough, Mass., spent weekends in high school volunteering at New England Aquarium and was working toward a marine biology degree at UNH. Bob Marriott noted that in the photo he held, “her hands are covered with bits of leaves where she had reached into disgusting murk to save that frog.”
“A year and five months after that Mother's Day, you murdered her,” he said to Mazzaglia.“I am sad that such a meaningful picture now includes this trial as part of its legacy.”
Melissa Marriott said in a press conference after the hearing that she “was so relieved that the monster who murdered our Lizzi” would spend the rest of his life in jail.
Mazzaglia, 31, was found guilty on June 27 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.
Judge Steven Houran issued the mandatory life sentence without parole for the latter murder charge, involving sexual assault. He also issued the maximum sentence for both conspiracy charges, of 3 and ½ to 7 years in prison for each, with a $4,000 fine for each. Those sentences will be served one after another, concurrently with the life sentence.
Including the fines for the conspiracy charges, more than $5,000 in restitution ordered with the murder charge and up to $15,000 in expenses for a funeral for Lizzi, which the Marriott family said they hadn't yet had, Mazzaglia's fines and fees total more than $32,000.
Before issuing the sentence, Houran asked public defenders if Mazzaglia wished to speak.
Attorney Joachim Barth deferred to Mazzaglia, who sat silently throughout his trial and remained expressionless through the series of speakers Thursday.
Mazzaglia said he did wish to speak.
“I did not rape and murder Elizabeth Marriott, however I do understand the Marriott family's pain,” he said.
Mazzaglia then said, “I did play a part in covering up Lizzi Marriott's death” and said he was “truly sorry” that her body was never found.
“My heart goes out to the Marriott family, and I am very sorry for their loss,” he said.
Bob Marriott responded flatly when asked about Mazzaglia's statement after the sentencing hearing.
“I thought it was very lame,” he said.
Mazzaglia is incarcerated in New Hampshire State Prison and attended Thursday's hearing in prison greens and shackles. He could return to Strafford County Superior Court later this year.
Houran has previously 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.
Lizzi Marriott died on Oct. 9, 2012. She worked at a Target store in Greenland with Mazzaglia's former girlfriend, Kathryn McDonough, who invited Marriott to hang out at the Dover apartment McDonough and Mazzaglia shared. McDonough testified that Mazzaglia strangled Marriott from behind after she rebuffed his sexual advances.
McDonough also 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.