VISTA, Calif. – Three members of a sadomasochistic triangle were convicted of murder Wednesday in the death of a Marine's wife who had just filed for divorce in California from her husband as he was deployed to Afghanistan.
The verdict followed a lurid, five-week trial in which prosecutors attempted to persuade jurors that Louis Ray Perez, 49, Dorothy Maraglino, 40, and Jessica Lopez, 28, were each responsible in some way.
Perez sank his head in hands as the verdicts were read, while the other defendants looked blankly ahead.
All three were also convicted of kidnapping. Perez and Maraglino were convicted of conspiracy; Lopez was acquitted on that lesser count.
Victim Brittany Killgore, 22, had planned to go on a San Diego dinner cruise with Perez on April 13, 2012, agreeing to the date after checking with Maraglino, who was pregnant with Perez's child. Killgore was found nude and strangled near Lake Skinner four days after vanishing.
Killgore's disappearance captured widespread attention, and the mystery deepened after her body was found. Investigators discovered Lopez alone on the same day in a San Diego hotel room with self-inflicted cuts and what they said appeared to be a suicide note and confession laced with profanity.
Lopez said in the seven-page letter that she shot Killgore with a stun gun, wrapped a rope around her neck, buried her face in a pillow and strangled her.
Defense attorneys acknowledged their clients, who lived in the small community of Fallbrook near Camp Pendleton, were involved in bondage and sadomasochism but insisted their activities with each other and others were consensual.
Search warrants gave no indication that Killgore knew about the triangle, and prosecutors described her as an innocent victim. Detectives said she unwittingly accepted Perez's invitation to dinner after he helped her move that afternoon from her apartment. She had filed for divorce days earlier.
Lopez's attorney, Sloan Ostbye, called her client "the perfect slave" in the triangle and said her role explained why she authored the letter taking full blame for Killgore's death.
Perez's attorney, Brad Patton, said Lopez killed Killgore, and his client, a former Marine, helped dump the body. Maraglino's attorney, Jane Kinsey, told jurors that her client was guilty of covering up for Perez but not committing the killing.
Soon after Killgore vanished, detectives searched Perez's mud-caked Ford Explorer and found a plastic bag with a stun gun, latex gloves and Killgore's blood. His DNA was found on the weapon.