Local News

Appeals court to hear case of pregnant Marine's murder

Posted October 25, 2011 5:17 p.m. EDT

— The state Court of Appeals will hear arguments in November in the case of a former Camp Lejeune Marine who was convicted last year of murdering a pregnant comrade.

A jury found Cesar Laurean guilty of first-degree murder in the December 2007 death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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 out of fear.

Lauterbach, 20, was nearly eight months pregnant at the time of her death. 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.

Laurean's attorneys plan to argue in the appeal that the trial judge should have allowed the jury to consider a second-degree murder charge as well. They also think the court erred in not allowing evidence about Lauterbach’s behavior prior to her accusing him of rape, according to the appeal.