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Judge rules 3 members of sex bondage ring to stand trial in Marine wife's death

Three members of a sex bondage ring will stand trial for murder in the death of a Camp Pendleton Marine's wife, a San Diego County judge ruled Monday.

Superior Court Judge K. Michael Kirkman said evidence from a six-day hearing suggested that 22-year-old Brittany Killgore was the victim of an effort to act out a fantasy. He ordered Louis Perez, Jessica Lopez and Dorothy Maraglino to face trial on charges of murder, kidnapping, torture, attempted sexual battery and conspiracy.

Earlier Monday, a detective testified that a document attributed to Maraglino identifies her as a participant in a beating and asphyxiation.

"We had the best of intentions and any injury or loss of life should be considered an accident," read the document recovered from a CD.

Detective Brian Patterson, who read the document aloud, said investigators also found whips, paddles, videos and other evidence of a sex bondage activity at Maraglino's home in Fallbrook, north of San Diego. The detective was the prosecution's final witness in the hearing to determine if Maraglino, Perez and Lopez should face trial for Killgore's April 2012 death.

Another San Diego County sheriff's detective, Daniel Pierce, testified that cellphone towers traced Lopez's phone to the area where Killgore's nude body was found in Lake Skinner. The phone was located in the area shortly before 4 a.m., several hours after Killgore disappeared.

Killgore disappeared after agreeing to go on a dinner cruise with Perez, who is also a Marine, according to prosecutors. One investigator has said Killgore was kidnapped and made an unwilling participant in bondage and torture before she was strangled.

Last week, Elizabeth Hernandez, who was identified in court as the victim's best friend, testified that she and Killgore became acquainted with the defendants in 2011 after Hernandez responded to an ad selling a fertility monitor on a website used by military families. She said they used to socialize with them but never participated in their alternative lifestyle in which Perez played the master, Maraglino was the mistress and Lopez was the slave.

Hernandez testified that she and Killgore had a falling out in 2012 as the victim prepared to divorce her husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, who was serving in Afghanistan at the time of Brittany Killgore's death.

She said Brittany Killgore started dating Hernandez's brother, and they started referring to her as "the disease."

Investigators found Killgore's blood and a weapon in Perez's car, according to prosecutors. Perez told investigators he dropped off Killgore in downtown San Diego's bustling Gaslamp District, but investigators concluded that he lied about his whereabouts and stayed about 60 miles north in Fallbrook.

Perez was arrested April 15 on suspicion of possessing a stolen assault rifle and was later charged with murder. Lopez was arrested two days later at a San Diego hotel where authorities said she was discovered with self-inflicted cuts.

Authorities also found a letter in which Lopez allegedly claimed she killed Killgore out of fear that the woman would come steal away Perez, whom she described as her "master."

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