Home > Crime > Cesar Laurean, Day 2 of Testimony

Cesar Laurean, Day 2 of Testimony


Laurean listens to testimony

Chief Assistant District Attorney Ernie Lee managed to take us through 11 witnesses on the opening day of testimony.

So the few things that struck me and created some questions in my mind from day one were, even though there was a protective order in effect, Maria and Laurean were hanging out together – shopping at the PX?

Special Agent Cobel spoke about sifting through the debris at the fire pit/grave and finding at least one wood screw.  With 4 sections of the fence missing, it makes me wonder if Laurean used the fence sections to build the bonfire in the pit.  Would have been easy for Laurean to tell friends he was getting rid of the fence so no one would question it.  But, then again, what was the whole point of that line of questioning?

We know it was Maria who bought the bus ticket to El Paso.  Did Laurean actually tell her the Mexico story that Blake Costa alluded to?  Did Maria believe Laurean’s family would take care of her and the baby and she would cross into Mexico from El Paso?  We don’t know of anybody she knew in El Paso!

Dick McNeil is busily trying to plant a seed of doubt and possibly implicate Christina.  He said that even though the camo jacket had the name Laurean on it didn’t mean it belonged to Cesar.  It could have belonged to Christina.

He also tired to insinuate that Cesar may have picked up the little girl from daycare, not Christina.  Ms. Busek was pretty adamant and believable it her certainty that it was Christina who picked up Abrianna that day!

I realize we have only had one day of testimony so far, but I don’t see the dots getting connected!

Hopefully if the technical difficulties have been corrected, we may learn more today!

9:37, the jury enters after some housekeeping issues.

Frank Davis is called, with Marine Credit Federal Union.  He is also a formal Marine.

His testimony goes to the use of ATM and the security cameras.  We have lengthy testimony to how the security cameras work and how they are serviced.

Onslow County contacted him around January 7th to look at records attached to an ATM card from December 2007.  There were 5 transactions in December.  2 different ATM machines. 12/14 there was a $700 withdrawal.

12/24 there were 4 transactions.  Attempts to withdraw but refused due to bad pin number, twice.  The 3rd was insufficient funds.  Same with the 4th attempt, the correct pin was used.

He requested the VCR tapes.  The transaction on the 14th was Maria.  The 24th was clearly Laurean, who attempted to cover the camera.

The ATM photos are published to the jury.

Forgive me, but Ernie Lee wastes so much time getting extraneous information from witnesses that does pretty much nothing to prove his point.  He really needs to cut the BS!!!  I understand laying foundation, but Lee took in excess of an hour to prove something that could have been done in 20 minutes!

Now we have photos of Laurean at a drive-up teller.

All right already, it’s Laurean!  We get it! Move along now!

McNeil asks some questions, but they don’t discredit anything.

Finally, after an hour and 50 minutes, Davis is done!

Next is Malo Menard.  He used to live next door to Laurean.  He did fencing work.  He talks about sections of the fence at Laurean’s house being down and it was lying in his yard.  He used the downed fence as jumps for remote control cars.  He says he never discussed the downed fence with Laurean.  One day the downed fence just disappeared.

He describes the bonfire in Laurean’s backyard around the holidays.  It was the only time they had a bonfire.

BINGO!  I knew it!

Next he describes seeing Maria’s car there around Christmas time.

Laurean used to keep his dog in the backyard.  Suddenly the dog was now being chained in the front yard.

McNeil asks how long he lived next door.  May 2007 through January 2008.

What kind of dog did Laurean have?  A small one.

He knew Cesar, Christina and the daughter lived there, but didn’t know them well and he had seen both Cesar and Christina in uniform when they would come home from work.

Laurean had a truck and Christina had an SUV.

Mernard recalls Maria’s car being at Laurean’s more than once.  So, all 3 cars were at the house at the same time on at least two occasions.

A number of people, 6-7, attended the bonfire before Christmas.  The blue car was there at the same time!

I have always wondered with Maria and the baby buried in such a shallow grave and being so badly charred, how nobody noticed the smell.  Charred flesh has a distinct odor!

Appears, Laurean thought this out pretty well!

Mernard is released.

Next Lee calls Richard Alander.  He lived next door to Laurean also, with Menard.

Lee takes him through the old panel fence being down.  He also does fencing and had offered to put the panel up.  Laurean said he would get to it.

He remembers the bonfire because he wife complained about the smell.  He told her they were probably partying and burning some garbage.

BINGO again!

He also saw Maria’s car at the house on 2 different days – a few days apart and he saw Laurean driving the blue car.

McNeil asks if he can give a better idea of when the bonfire took place.  Alander says just before Christmas.

Alander is done.

Randy Dulay, NCIS Agent is up.  He is a forensic computer expert.  He investigated Maria, Cesar and Christina’s work computers. He copied the hard drive on each computer.  The image is cannot be altered.

DOD has security cards and PIN’s issued to employees or by name and password.

On Laurean’s computer only his profile existed.  Dulay could access the websites Laurean visited and he identifies the report he generated with the sites he thought were relevant

January 8 Laurean visited Goggle search on what happens in a homicide investigation.  Goggle book search on homicide investigations.

A couple jewelry sites on January 7 as well as a criminal defense attorney’s website.

Goggle Criminal defense lawyers in North Carolina.

A map search for directions to a Holiday Inn in Raleigh, NC.

Several Amazon.com searchs.

Multiple searches on the 7th and 8th of January for employment opportunities in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Now Dulay is asked if Maria searched on anything about Mexico….

Cheese and crackers!!!!! Well, after a pretty decent feed today, the entire feed  – audio and video – totally dropped and now they are running the noon news…grrrrrrrrrrr!

We just lost important testimony in those 10 minutes.

Graham Grafton, NCIS, on the stand and they are showing pictures of Laurean’s workspace, his CPU, and items of interest.  A sticky with the name and phone number for a criminal attorney, a notepad with Arizona airport written on.  All this is apparently collected after Laurean went on the lam.

McNeil asks how long he worked at NCIS in December.  About two years.

How many agents were working this case?  I don’t know.

20 maybe?  Yes sir, probably.

Wow, Agent Megan Grafton is his wife!  She was the one handling Maria’s rape allegation.

McNeil asks if he was aware Laurean was not charged in the rape case?  Yes.

12:25 Lunch recess is called.

2 pm Court back in session.

Lee calls Joel Larsen.  He is a Marine Warrant Officer 2.  He was in charge of Lauren for 7 months before Laurean ran.  Laurean was Larsen’s lead guy in the separation unit.  He knew in June that Laurean had been accused by Lauterbach.  Larsen says Laurean claimed not to have done anything inappropriate.

He knew of Lauterbach, but really didn’t know her.  He knew she had an order of protection.

On December 14 there was a Christmas party for the unit – 500 or so people were there, many of the families were there.  The party started around 5-6pm.  It was understood that all members of the unit would be there.  Lauren didn’t go to the party.

December 17 he learned Maria had left the note that she was leaving.  Laurean wanted to know career wise how this would affect him with the investigation into the alleged rape.

Supposedly Maria sent flowers to Laurean on December 27.  Larsen said he thought that odd because she was UA (Unauthorized Absence).  Lauren told him he threw the flowers away.  Larsen never saw the flowers or a card.

NCIS wanted to speak with Laurean so Larsen went with him.  Laurean asked for a lawyer.  Laurean asked about life insurance, why Mary Lauterbach was there in NC and what would happen to his case if Maria never returned.

The last time Larsen saw Laurean around noon on January 10, 2008.

Larsen agrees that committing adultery can ruin your military career.

McNeil speaks of adultery and says that would not be reason for being removed from the service.  Larsen agrees.

In January there were no charges against Laurean?  Correct, it was just an investigation at that point.

When there is an allegation, do the Marines move quickly?  As fast as they can depending on the circumstances.

6-7 months is a long time for an investigation, isn’t it?  Not necessarily.

Are you aware Lauterbach was disciplined…Objection!

The jury and the witness are sent out.

McNeil wants to delve into her having been disciplined and she lies and has fantasies to prove she could have lied about the rape.

McNeil says its history not prejudicial to the state.

The State claims its all hearsay and points out this trial isn’t about the rape

Defense says it goes to her character and reputation.

State argues this witness can’t testify to her truthfulness.

Judge asks if it’s fair that the jury has in their mind Laurean raped her.

State says it was an allegation of rape; there was no charge of rape.

Larsen is back and says he knows Maria had been counseled on behavior.  He also knows Maria wasn’t credible.

The Judge sustains some of the objection.

Calls a recess and tells counsel to meet him in chambers.

So, if McNeil gets to debunk the rape allegation as a lie on Maria’s part, then he can say Laurean had no reason to kill her!

Judge is back on the bench and rules McNeil can ask about Maria’s character as to truthfulness, but they can’t go into specific incidents.

Larsen and the jury return.

McNeil asks if he is aware of Lauterbach’s reputation for truthfulness.  Yes, she was not always truthful.

He never says Laurean and Lauterbach together.

He was aware of the protective order.

Larsen says Laurean was a stellar Marine and one of the top 3-4 NCO’s that worked for him.


Did your opinion of stellar Marine change after Laurean went UA?  Objection!

Did your opinion change?  No sir.

Mariane Pruneda is called.  She was a Master SGT. She worked with Christina.  Pruneda saw on the computer a Marine was missing.  She went out and asked her staff if they knew anything and someone said she thought it had something to do with a rape.

She went back to her office and Christina came in and broke down in her office.  Pruneda told Christina could call her anytime she needed help.

Christina called her 2 days later and Christina was hysterical.  They met and Pruneda drove her to the attorney’s office.

Additional lawyers showed up and then NCIS showed up.  Then they all went to the Sheriff’s Office.

Christina was told she could go to Pruneda’s house because she wasn’t allowed to go to her house.

She never saw Cesar Laurean that day.

McNeill asks when she retired from the Marines.  July 2008 after 26 years.

Court on recess at 3:29.

Ms. Yordy is called.  She found Maria’s credit card at the bus depot.

Due to some confusion here, I had to miss a few witnesses.

The officer who met Ms. Yordy and picked up the credit card.

The officer who secured Laurean’s truck.

Next is Matthew Clifton who is an SBI agent since 2005.  January 8, 2008 he processed Maria’s car.  They looked for evidence.

He identifies 4 photos of Maria’s vehicle that get entered into evidence and published to the jury.

They look at photos of numerous items from Maria’s car and enter those into evidence and publish them.

Maria’s car had a for sale sign in the rear window!

Great!  They dropped the feed again at 4:45!!!

Have a great weekend everybody!

  1. tezi
    08/13/2010 at 8:10 pm

    Things are moving quickly in this trial.

    My question is what is the motive? If Laurean knew the baby wasn’t his, why would he have to kill her? I thought that Lauterbach had retracted the rape allegation?

    I still feel like Laurean’s wife Christina is involved, not just after the fact, but in the actual planning of the murder. JMO.

  2. Ritanita
    08/14/2010 at 6:52 am

    I’m thinking that Laurean’s career was what he was protecting here. There are other factors as well. Did Laurean think the baby was his? Was he fearful of a possible court martial?

  3. lilshirt
    08/14/2010 at 3:40 pm

    He had to get rid of Maria because she was a threat to his career, She threatned him, abot the assault and her baby, i do not believe he rapped her, it was consintual, but she learned it was only a wam bam thank you only, he didn’t wan’t her like she WANTED him she was a threat also to his marriage! Months later the threat was still over his head, he made her believe they would be together flee from the military… He convinced her so she wen’t and purchased a ticket to El Paso Texas that fri Dec 14 2007 then she wen’t to his house something wen’t down……… He told his wife i believe that sat 15th she killed herself he on the 16 th sun purchased a wheel barrel a shovel and cinder blocks at lowes!!! Ohh by the way i am in the trial Goldsboro every day every thing is piecing together, although i must admit he has a damn good lawer!!!!!

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