Local News

Laurean jurors: Evidence made for easy decision

Posted August 24, 2010
Updated August 25, 2010

— A former Camp Lejeune Marine is spending life in prison without parole after being found guilty Monday of killing a pregnant comrade in December 2007.

Jurors deliberated for about three hours before finding Cesar Laurean guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

Juror Shelia Newsome said Tuesday that she still has unanswered questions about exactly what happened the night Lauterbach was killed. But she said the one thing she's not unsure of Laurean’s guilt.

“We didn’t have a chance to have a reasonable doubt, because we had circumstantial evidence,” Newsome said.

Lauterbach, 20, was nearly eight months pregnant at the time of her death. She had accused Laurean, who was one of her supervisors, of raping her in the spring of 2007, but later recanted the allegation. Although military investigators couldn't corroborate her claims, they continued to look into the case until her death.

DNA tests conducted after Laurean's April 2008 arrest confirmed that he wasn't the father of Lauterbach's child.

Laurean fled Jacksonville hours before Lauterbach's body was found in January 2008 and was arrested three months later in a small town in western Mexico. When he fled, he left behind a note in which he claimed Lauterbach had committed suicide and that he had buried her in a backyard fire pit out of fear.

A pathologist testified during the two-week trial that Lauterbach was killed by a blow to the head, and two forensics experts said that her blood was found throughout Laurean's garage and on a crowbar that he gave to a Marine buddy two days after Lauterbach was last seen alive.

Jurors discuss Cesar Laurean murder trial Jurors discuss Cesar Laurean murder trial

Juror Jerome Anders said a decision came quickly because the evidence in the case was clear.

“Everybody agreed, and everything was pretty much cut and dry,” Anders said.

Laurean didn't testify during the trial. Newsome said hearing from him might have made a difference.

His testimony could have "given us more input into that, rather than just circumstantial evidence," she said. "But we didn’t have that.”

Jurors also convicted Laurean of financial transaction card theft and attempted financial transaction card fraud for trying to use Lauterbach's bank card. They acquitted him on a related charge of robbery with a dangerous weapon.

(WNCT-TV Channel 9 contributed to this report)


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  • shortcake53 Aug 25, 2010

    jeff, just so you know, jurors are summoned, they dont just "show up" looking to serve. He could have handed her the crowbar AFTER he hit Maria while HE gloves on. The no brain part is the only part you got right.

  • elcid liked Ike Aug 25, 2010

    "Juror Shelia Newsome said Tuesday that she still has unanswered questions about exactly what happened the night Lauterbach was killed. But she said the one thing she's not unsure of Laurean’s guilt."

    Laughable. This reiterates my point that the concept of a jury is a horrible idea. Once again, the appellate courts are left to rectify the emotionally driven mistakes of a group of laymen.

  • jeffingarner Aug 25, 2010

    Hey, folks, it's a no brainer. The wife did it. Her DNA was on the crow bar. Most jurys in NC are idiots. They're the only ones willing to serve. Got to get that $12/day.

  • Topsail Girl Aug 25, 2010

    Notagain1903 thanks for the clarification - I didn't read it that way. I agree that nothing justifies the violence but I repectfully disagree that Maria forced Cesar into a corner. He willingly had an affair with her and in my opinion he did willfully and with premeditation, murder Maria.

  • Topsail Girl Aug 25, 2010

    reeceeyarnell - thanks for the clarification.

    leannfan1 - we need a "LIKE" button on here :-)

  • notagain1903 Aug 25, 2010

    Notagain Did you seriously just say it was her fault for being murdered? So the person whose skull was split with a crowbar, then burned in a fire pit to hide the evidence, should be held accountable? psycho

    Well I see reading comprehension is not your strong suit! This was a habitual liar who was used to manipulating people to get what she wanted! Unfortunately she found out to late that thier is a breaking point to every human being. There is NO justification for such violence in any situation. After you tell so many lies you start to believe them as truths. Unfortunately in our society women in this situation, before this horrible act happened, are viewed as poor defensless innocent victims. Which is in no way the case. If you push anyone into a corner They will protect themselves! I am sure after the fact he would have had her have the baby then get complete custody for her being an unfit mother. Oh and the Mary I was referring to was the Virgin Mary!! not Maria.

  • leannfan1 Aug 25, 2010

    Did you know, in the state of NC, if you kill a pregnant woman, it is only one count of murder? Even if she is due to give birth the day she dies you are only guilty of one crime according to this state. Contact your representatives, make it 2 counts of murder, one for the woman and one for each of the unborn children!

  • reeceeyarnell Aug 25, 2010

    Topsail Girl said:
    Mary is the only woman that didn't need help!!! ..........notagain1903

    Ahh - her name is MARIA not Mary.

    Topsail....I'm thinking notagain was referring to Mary....the mother of Jesus.....and not just making a typo in spelling the victim's name :o)! I dunno....but that is how I read it.

  • reeceeyarnell Aug 25, 2010

    Laurean is not innocent, no matter if he gave the fatal blow or not. He willingly had a relationship with this woman, knowing he was married. His house is the place they found her charred & battered remains as well as those of her unborn son. He is the person that fled the country. If his wife was involved, then I agree she should be prosecuted also, but it doesn't relieve him of one ounce of his guilt. As for his punishment, he can thank his lucky stars that the Mexican's went to bat for his sorry being. Under Tison v. Arizona, 481 U.S. 137 (1987), it states, the death penalty may be imposed on someone who was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life. I think the evidence, no matter how "circumstantial" points to the fact that he was a major participant & he had ZERO concern for the life of Marie, nor her baby (whom could have been his son for all he knew!). So whether they fry him or not, he meets the criteria! Let him rot!

  • Topsail Girl Aug 25, 2010

    Wildcat how do you know this? They were chosen to be fair and uphold their duties to the State of NC. These people that made up the jury are 70 miles more or less from the crime scene. I'm sure some of them knew nothing of this crime while others may have heard it and forgotten. After all, it took 2 years to get him in the court room.
    The reason I asked if you were a moderator is because you suggest we move on and then a minute later you are posting all of your comments as if they are fact.