Marine Accused of Killing Pregnant Colleague to Be Extradited From Mexico

A Marine accused of killing a pregnant colleague in North Carolina and fleeing to Mexico will be returned to the U.S. this week, federal authorities said Thursday.

Cpl. Cesar Laurean, 22, was scheduled to be extradited Friday and processed in a Texas court. Further details of his arrival weren't disclosed because of safety concerns, said FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson.

Laurean was charged with first-degree murder after the charred remains of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, were found in January 2008 buried in his backyard in Jacksonville. Lauterbach, of Vandalia, Ohio, had been eight months pregnant.

Laurean, his wife and young daughter lived in the house at the time.

Laurean and Lauterbach worked together at nearby Camp Lejeune. She had accused him of rape, although tests showed he wasn't the father of her unborn child. Before she went missing in December 2007, military officials said they planned to investigate the allegation.

Laurean was arrested in Mexico last April. He has dual citizenship.

Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson said Laurean would be processed in state court in Houston, where he could waive extradition to North Carolina or fight it. If Laurean fights extradition, Gov. Beverly Perdue would have to request that Texas return him and that could take a week.

Defense lawyer Dick McNeil of Jacksonville said he expects his client to plead not guilty, but he has no access to Laurean while U.S. and Mexican authorities work out the extradition. He missed a call from Laurean Thursday morning.

"I can tell you we're not pleading guilty. If he does, it's life without parole," the attorney said.

Hudson agreed not to seek the death penalty in order for Mexico to consider returning Laurean.