08/28/12 — Laurean denied appeal by top court

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Laurean denied appeal by top court

By John Joyce
Published in News on August 28, 2012 1:46 PM

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Cesar Laurean

The state Supreme Court declined Monday to hear an appeal by ex-Marine Cesar Laurean, who was convicted in 2010 of first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

According to a spokesman for the state Supreme Court, the justices do not release publicly any information regarding what leads them to allow or to deny an appeal.

The decision does, however, open the door to civil litigation by the Lauterbach family, who have been anticipating filing a wrongful death suit against Laurean since their first attempt was stayed due to his right to appeal his criminal conviction.

The case was tried in Wayne County Superior Court because of the extent of pre-trial publicity in Jacksonville, where the crime occurred.

Laurean's appeal was predicated on the argument that jurors should have been allowed to consider a second-degree murder verdict based on what his defense considered a lack of evidence of premeditation.

Ms. Lauterbach was pregnant when Laurean, 25, bludgeoned her to death inside his home and then burned her body and buried her in his back yard in 2007.

A year later, her remains and the remains of her unborn child were discovered. That day, Laurean, then a Marine corporal, fled to Mexico and had to be extradited three months later to face the murder charge.

He is now serving a life sentence without the chance of parole at Pasquotank Correctional Institution, a high-security prison near Elizabeth City.