Local News

Wife of pregnant Marine's killer won't be charged

Posted October 26, 2010 4:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2010 6:40 p.m. EDT

— The wife of a former Camp Lejeune Marine convicted of killing his pregnant comrade nearly three years ago won't be charged in the case, Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson said Tuesday.

A jury in August found Cesar Laurean guilty of the December 2007 slaying of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Laurean's attorney suggested during the trial that Christina Laurean could have killed Lauterbach, noting she had a motive and her DNA was found on a crowbar that prosecutors say was the murder weapon.

Hudson dismissed that theory in a news conference during which he outlined evidence in the case, some of which wasn't presented at trial.

"There is no credible evidence that Christina Laurean was involved in killing Maria Lauterbach," he said.

Lauterbach's charred remains were found in a fire pit behind the Laureans' Jacksonville home in January 2008. An autopsy determined that she had been beaten so severely with a blunt object that her skull split apart.

Prosecutors argued that Cesar Laurean killed her because he needed to salvage his military career after she accused him of rape. Although she later recanted and the accusation never was corroborated, the Marines were moving forward with an investigation of the case at the time of her death.

Hours before Lauterbach's remains were discovered, Cesar Laurean fled to Mexico, where he was arrested three months later. He kept in contact with his wife until his arrest, but the content of their discussions had never before been detailed.

Investigators checked e-mails between the two and found that Christina Laurean repeatedly declined to help her husband, Hudson said. She didn't provide Cesar Laurean with money or information about the manhunt, he said.

Hudson said he also read a journal Christina Laurean kept after her husband fled, and her entries vacillated between love for him and anger that he had abandoned her and their young daughter.

"She's a woman who's torn," he said. "Unless she's the greatest actress in the world, you can't help but see her as a victim herself."

Cesar Laurean sent his wife a 10-page letter while on the lam blaming Mexican drug cartels for Lauterbach's death, Hudson said, comparing the story to a John Grisham novel.

"What he's done is destroy many lives," the prosecutor said.

Hudson is running for state Senate, and he said he was aware of criticism that the news conference was timed to generate publicity a week before the election.

He dismissed those claims, saying he was only trying to end the chatter in the blogosphere that Christina Laurean was involved in Lauterbach's death.

Lauterbach’s family has filed a wrongful death suit against Christina Laurean, claiming she knew about the murder and helped her husband build the fire pit.

Hudson said the impact of his news conference on the pending civil suit was irrelevant.

"I'm here as the district attorney," he said.