Preliminary hearing in death of military wife, Brittany Killgore, focuses on phone records
Fallbrook woman found dead in Riverside County
Last Updated: 66 days ago
VISTA, Calif. - Testimony centered around cellphone records Wednesday in a preliminary hearing for a Marine sergeant, his girlfriend and another woman accused in the death of a 22-year-old military wife from Fallbrook.
Louis Ray Perez, 46, Dorothy Maraglino, 37, and 25-year-old Jessica Lynn Lopez are charged with murder in the death of Brittany Killgore, whose nude body was found in southwest Riverside County four days after she went missing last April 13. Authorities believe she was strangled.
A custodian of records from Sprint Nextel, Joseph Trawicki, testified about phone calls and text messages sent and received by various cell phones the night Killgore disappeared.
A friend of the victim, Channy Tal, testified earlier in the hearing that she was helping Killgore pack for a move back to Pennsylvania when Perez, a staff sergeant at Camp Pendleton, came over and insisted that Killgore go on the dinner cruise with him.
Killgore's Marine husband -- who was estranged from the victim -- was deployed in Afghanistan at the time of her murder and was cleared of any wrongdoing. Killgore had filed for divorce a few days before her death.
The witness said Killgore was reluctant to go on the cruise, but decided to accompany Perez after speaking with his girlfriend, Maraglino, who said it was OK because she was pregnant and didn't want to get seasick.
Perez also said he would get five men to help Killgore move, according to Tal.
Tal said Killgore texted the word "help" about 7:50 p.m., soon after leaving with Perez for the dinner cruise in San Diego. She said she tried to text Killgore back, but got no reply.
"I was concerned that something was wrong," Tal testified.
Minutes later, Tal said she texted Killgore again, writing, "Brit, are you OK? I'm freaking out."
Tal said she got a text back from Killgore's phone that read, "Yes, I love this party!"
The witness said Killgore never used the word "yes," but always "yeah."
Tal testified that she insisted that Killgore call so she could hear her voice, but got only a text in return that read, "(Call) in a few ... hot guys."
The witness said she used a friend's phone to contact Perez, who she knew as "Ivan." Perez told her that he dropped Killgore at a club and saw her go off with "two guys," and he lost track of her, according to Tal.
Tal said she and her friends decided to report Killgore missing the next morning.
She said sheriff's deputies contacted Perez on April 14 and he showed up at Killgore's apartment.
"He looked kind of dirty, but he was calm and collected," Tal testified.
Deputy James Breneman took the stand and testified that Perez sounded "distraught or panicked."
Deputy James Breneman had been dispatched to Killgore's Fallbrook apartment to follow-up on the missing persons report. When he got there, Tal told him Perez had taken Killgore on a date the night before and mentioned Killgore's text message.
Breneman testified Tal gave him Perez' cellphone number, and when the deputy dialed it, Perez picked up.
"He was speaking really fast, and then kept asking me, 'Are you the media? Are you sure you're not the media?'" Breneman said.
Breneman said Perez explained that some reporters had called him to ask about Killgore's disappearance.
Perez did not want to speak on the phone, so he agreed to meet the deputy outside Killgore's apartment. Breneman said at first Perez was calm, but as he began to tell his story, his demeanor changed and he started to appear angry.
The deputy testified Perez told him the boat had already left the dock for the dinner cruise they had planned to go on, so they decided to party at a bar in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Parking was an issue, so Perez dropped Killgore off, and he became "angry and clenched his jaw" as he told the deputy that his date was standing with a couple of guys.
Breneman testified Perez told him he parked his car and returned to the bar, but Killgore was nowhere to be found.
"He stated he figured she pulled 'a Brittany' and that she had just hooked up with somebody else. I asked him what he meant by pulled 'a Brittany' and he stated she was flighty and she's not very serious," Breneman said.
Perez told the deputy he later went to the Maraglino home in Fallbrook, where he stayed all night.
Although Perez was not a suspect at that point, the deputy said he asked Perez if he would be willing to go to the Sheriff's Substation in Fallbrook for further questioning. Perez agreed.
After Perez was transported to the substation, Breneman found his car in a nearby parking lot.
"I noticed the vehicle was covered with mud in the wheel wells and on the running boards," testified Breneman, who said that the muddy tires didn't fit with the story Perez had just told him, since it had rained the day before.
The deputy then noticed a black plastic rifle case in plain view through the window of Perez' white Ford Explorer.
Deputy Jeff Lauhon testified there was an AR-15 assault-style rifle inside the case.
"When I saw the weapon, I recognized it as being illegal to own in the state of California," Lauhon said.
All three defendants were involved in sexual behavior that included bondage, torture, and master, servant and slave role-playing, and Killgore was an "unwilling participant" in those activities, sheriff's detective Susan Fiske alleged in search warrant affidavits.
According to court documents, Perez participated in a bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism community and said in online posts that he was planning to have a BDSM session the weekend of April 13, 2012.
Perez allegedly took Killgore to his Fallbrook home -- where authorities said they found ropes, whips, a Taser, a nightstick, spiked gloves and a "sex dungeon" -- before texting Lopez and Maraglino to join him.
At some point, Perez decided to kill Killgore, authorities allege.
The preliminary hearing -- expected to last through Friday -- will determine whether there's enough evidence for the defendants to stand trial.
For the third straight day, Killgore's parents sat in the front row of the courtroom.
Killgore's father told 10News they will be there every day and said that they owe it to Brittany.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.