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Appeals court upholds conviction in pregnant Marine's murder

Posted May 1, 2012

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— The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the first-degree murder conviction of Cesar Laurean, who killed a pregnant comrade in December 2007.

Laurean's attorneys argued last November that the trial judge should have allowed the jury to consider a second-degree murder charge. They also accused of the judge of limiting the evidence the jury could consider.

A jury found Laurean guilty in 2010 of first-degree murder in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, who was nearly 8 months pregnant. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The case attracted national attention after Laurean fled Jacksonville hours before Lauterbach's burned body was found buried in his backyard in January 2008. He was arrested three months later in a small town in western Mexico.

Defense Attorney Ann Petersen said evidence suggested that Laurean hit Lauterbach once with a crowbar during an argument at his home and that he did not mean to kill her.

"After he realized she was dead, he then panicked, buried the body and later took off to Texas, and that is totally consistent with second-degree murder but not premeditation and deliberation," Petersen said at the November appeal hearing.

Assistant Attorney General Norma Harrell said the way Laurean disposed of Lauterbach's body was enough to demonstrate premeditation and support a first-degree murder conviction.

Petersen said the judge also should have allowed jurors to hear evidence about Lauterbach's behavior. She had accused Laurean, who was one of her supervisors at Camp Lejeune, of raping her in the spring of 2007, but she later recanted the allegation.


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  • Sherlock May 2, 2012

    Why did his lawyer want to hide the evidence from the jury?

  • awood2 May 2, 2012

    Good glad he's still there! He did it, then ran and told his wife not to tell that she knew where he was.

  • ladyblue May 2, 2012

    good. he deserves it and IMO, his wife is not squeky clean in this fiasco either

  • babedan May 1, 2012

    I say break the darn Treaty. Mexico and the US have a treaty where both parties are supposed to control their borders and issue visa's to their citizens and and go through all the proper channels before crossing over each others borders right? Well, it's clear when you go to Wal-Mart that Mexico isn't keeping it's end of the Bargan.

  • trekkie13 May 1, 2012

    True Blue in Wake County, the treaty exists between the United States and Mexico itself and not the US and North Carolina. The states have no lawful authority to enter into treaties with foreign nations. Only the federal government can enter into treaties with foreign nations. Once Lauren was brought back to North Carolina he was basically under federal protection from the state court system imposing capital punishment.

  • trekkie13 May 1, 2012

    ifcdirector stated: "Why did North Carolina make a deal with Mexico not to execute him? Are we to the point where our system of justice can be dictated by a foreign government?"

    North Carolina and the NC courts system had zero legal say so in the matter. Extradition treaties between countries is a FEDERAL and not state matter and legally falls under treaty rules dictated by the federal government and the other nation. In fact the United States Office of Secretary of State has lawful purview to enforce the treaty and forbid the courts of North Carolina from sentencing or enforcing capital punishment.

  • True Blue in Wake County May 1, 2012

    IFC Director....no, its because of the extradition treaty that currently exist with the US and North Carolina (South). They will not honor extradition to countries that have a death penalty unless the country agree's that one such penalty will not be imposed. In exchange, they receive free health-care, in-state tuition, a drivers license and a complimentary white van with ladders and a years supply of Bud Light.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun May 1, 2012

    Eye for an Eye.

  • Smedley May 1, 2012

    Hitting a pregnant female in the head with a crowbar. That sounds like enough premeditation to me.

  • sunshine1040 May 1, 2012

    Sorry they could not give him death because of an agreement with Mexico Mexico would not have sent him back to the states without this agreement which is why we should loat many of our inmates on a bus and send them to Mexsico maybe then they might stop sending us their citizens