04/12/10 — Laurean trial set for August

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Laurean trial set for August

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 12, 2010 1:46 PM

The first-degree murder trial of former Marine Cesar Laurean that was scheduled for June 28 in Wayne County has been pushed back to Aug. 9.

Onslow County Superior Court Judge Charles Henry this morning announced that he has approved a defense motion to delay the trial.

District 4 District Attorney Dewey Hudson had sought to keep the trial on schedule. Hudson said that rescheduling the case could adversely affect the scheduling of other cases scheduled to go to trial.

Wayne County Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones said he was contacted by Henry last week after defense attorney Richard McNeil said a knee injury he suffered in January has "hampered" his ability to prepare for the trial.

Jones received a call from Henry this morning informing him of the delay.

"It (delay) actually works better," Jones said. "The week of June 28, we already had a murder trial scheduled so there would have been two murder trials.

"Aug. 9 is an administrative week and it will be the only jury trial that week so it works out better for us."

Being an administrative week will mean fewer people and less traffic and less demand for the limited parking around the courthouse.

Laurean is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach of Vandalia, Ohio. Ms. Lauterbach was pregnant at the time of her death.

Laurean, who is currently in the Onslow County Jail, fled to Mexico shortly before Ms. Lauterbach's charred remains were found buried in his back yard in Jacksonville in January 2008.

He was indicted in January 2008 by an Onslow grand jury on a first-degree murder charge in connection with her death. He was arrested in April 2008 and extradited to North Carolina last year.

Henry earlier agreed in January to move the trial to Wayne County because of pre-trial publicity.

The murder and Laurean's flight have been the subject of local, state and national news coverage. Laurean's attorney filed for the change in venue claiming that pre-trial publicity would keep Laurean from receiving a fair trial.