Saturday, April 18, 2009
At 9 p.m. last evening, Cesar Laurean was booked into the Onslow County Detention Center. He is being held without bail on charges of credit card transaction fraud, obtaining property by false pretenses and first-degree murder in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.
Prosecutors contend Laurean killed Lauterbach on December 14. 10 days later he used her ATM card and fled to Mexico. He was arrested in San Juan Vina in the Mexican state of Michoacan. Laurean holds dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico so he could not be immediately deported. He spent the past year fighting the extradition process.
Maj. Cliff Gilmore, Camp Lejeune spokesman, said Laurean would go to the civilian jail in Onslow County and stand trial in a civilian court. Laurean was listed as a deserter after he disappeared, but is still considered an active-duty Marine.
Laurean faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted. Mexico’s extradition policies prohibit U.S. authorities to seek the death penalty.
Because authorities have determined that Maria's child had not been born at the time of her death, DA Dewey Hudson said, prosecutors are only allowed to charge Laurean with a single count of murder under North Carolina law.
Lauterbach's body was found after Laurean's wife, Christina, provided authorities with a note her husband had written that claimed the 20-year-old Lauterbach slit her own throat during an argument.
A gaping 4-inch wound was found on the left side of Lauterbach's neck, but autopsy results indicated the wound would not have been fatal and possibly occurred after death. The autopsy report indicates Lauterbach died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
Prosecutors have said there was no evidence that Christina Laurean was involved in or aware of Lauterbach's death.
An arraignment is scheduled for Monday, April 20.
Defense attorney Dick McNeil says Laurean will plead not guilty once in court.