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Laurean gave crowbar to Marine buddy

Posted August 16, 2010
Updated August 17, 2010

— A former Camp Lejeune Marine testified Monday that Cesar Laurean gave him a blood-spattered crowbar in late December 2007, and he turned the tool over to authorities after learning that the remains of another Marine were found in Laurean's yard.

Laurean, 23, is charged with killing Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach in December 2007 and burying her body in a fire pit behind his Jacksonville home.

Lauterbach, 20, of Vandalia, Ohio, was nearly eight months pregnant at the time of her death. She had accused Laurean of raping her in the spring of 2007, and although she later recanted the allegation, Camp Lejeune officials continued to investigate the case until her death.

She was last seen on Dec. 14, 2007.

Dennis Ward, who left the Marine Corps last year, testified Monday that he went with Laurean to a Lowe's home-improvement store in Jacksonville on Dec. 16, 2007, where Laurean bought several cinder blocks to build a fire pit. He said he helped Laurean put the cinder blocks in his backyard and instructed him on how to build the fire pit.

Ward testified that, when Laurean dropped him back home later that day, he gave him a crowbar that Ward had seen months earlier and had said he wanted.

After hearing of Lauterbach's death a few weeks later, Ward said, he examined the crowbar and noticed a speck of what looked like dried blood on a piece of tape on the crowbar, and he and his wife decided to turn the crowbar over to Onslow County authorities.

"It didn't add up to me. I was there when that fire pit was built," he said.

Cesar Laurean in court Blood-like substance found in Laurean's garage, on crowbar

Earlier Monday, a State Bureau of Investigation agent testified that he collected samples of what appeared to be blood spatters from Laurean's garage.

Large stains were found on a pink, inflatable raft, agent Steve Combs said. The raft has been folded up and stored in the garage, he said.

Spatters and larger stains also were found on the floor, wall and ceiling, as well as on plastic storage bins, a paint can and a peg board, Combs said. A small area of the garage wall had been painted over, he said.

Laurean fled Jacksonville hours before Lauterbach's remains were discovered in January 2008. He left behind a note saying that she had killed herself and that he had buried her out of fear.

An autopsy determined that she was killed by a blow to the head and that a slash on her throat was superficial.

An international manhunt led to Laurean's arrest in April 2008 in rural Mexico. In order to extradite him to North Carolina, prosecutors promised Mexican authorities that he wouldn't seek the death penalty against him.

SBI Special Agent Matthew Clifton testified Monday that a Quiksilver-brand T-shirt was found in Laurean's home during a January 2008 search. The shirt was similar to one worn by a man who tried to use Lauterbach's bank card, as seen in security camera photos taken at a Jacksonville automated teller machine, he said.

Last week, a Marine Federal Credit Union executive testified that a man tried to use Lauterbach's bank card at an ATM on Dec. 24, 2007, which authorities say was 10 days after Lauterbach went missing.

Clifton also examined Lauterbach's Hyundai and Laurean's Dodge pickup for evidence in the case. He said he found 39 Prozac pills in the glove-box of Lauterbach's car, but he couldn't recall if they were prescribed to her.

Investigators weren't able to check the fire pit in Laurean's backyard for footprints, Clifton testified, because Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown was tramping around the area, using a wire coat hanger as a divining rod.

Prosecutors say they plan to call Lauterbach’s mother to the stand before they wrap up their case, which is expected Wednesday. Since her daughter’s death, Mary Lauterbach has pushed the Pentagon to allow troops who allege sexual assault to transfer out of their unit.

Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson said Laurean's wife, Christina Laurean, also has been subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution. Her attorney is expected in court Tuesday to fight the subpoena, Hudson said.

Under state law, a husband or wife cannot be compelled to testify against his or her spouse.

Laurean’s attorney, Dick McNeil, will call defense witnesses after the prosecution case is complete.

McNeil last week put Lauterbach's character on trial, saying she had a history of lying and that her false accusation threatened Laurean's military career. He said her reputation as being untruthful will play a role in whether jurors believe there was premeditation in her death.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Sauratownmtn Aug 17, 2010

    I just want to thank you WRAL for the murder trial being on WRAL.com so many of us can watch it on our computer at home. I know you are having technical difficulties this morning but I also know you are working hard to restore it.. Just wanted to say a kind word and thanks...

  • Diabolical Aug 17, 2010

    HAHA Deep thought. After you posted that it's on the frontpage now.

  • Deep Thought Aug 17, 2010

    I know that WRAL said it takes a lot of different elements to get the sound and video to work correctly but I have a suggestion. When you know it's not working, how about putting sometime on the web page that says something like "technical difficulties" or "No audio" or "Oooooops" or something so I won't keep figiting with my computer thinking something is wrong on my end.

    Just a suggestion, take it or not.

  • beachbum1 Aug 17, 2010

    Yeah big tough marine, he is a disgrace to all military. Hang his rear, he murdered 2 people.

  • Diabolical Aug 17, 2010

    WRAL, needs new equipment. We lost sound and I haven't mastered the art of lip reading yet.

  • dogsrule12cheek Aug 17, 2010

    Guilty just like the other Wife killers in Jail!!!!!!!!!!

    they are Cowards deep down to do such a thing as killing a woman that is pregnant with THERE son or daughter is way out for them they THINK.

    God Bless her Mother and family

  • mmhouseof156 Aug 17, 2010

    In my book he is guilty, If he didn't rape or kill her why was he so scared. Why was the blood on the ceiling if she killed herself. No one she going to kill themselves to have blood splattered all over the place. And if the wife had anything to do with it she should go to ail too

  • teetimeno2 Aug 17, 2010

    You would think that with all of the blood in the garage, the wife would realize that something was ....... WRONG. I must have missed an important piece in this case because I don't understand why there is no scuttlebutt that she may be tried as an accessory after the fact....aiding and abetting.....something. I think I would notice if my garage had blood on the floor, ceiling, and bins.

  • Diabolical Aug 17, 2010

    I'm surprised Nancy Grace is not covering this story. Would really love to know what she thinks about this whole trial. I mean she cover pregnant mothers who have been killed so how come not this case?

    WRAL if you can please, anyway to just have Dennis Ward testimony on a video clip. I wasn't able to hear it all. I only heard bits in pieces and I would like to know if he made the pit fire or if Laurean was the one that made the pit fire or if both of them together made the pit fire.

  • JAT Aug 17, 2010

    Diabolical - I think that he may have had the bonfire at one time and then the BBQ at another. The neighbors mentioned a bonfire, not something where people were gathered.