Home > Crime > Cesar Laurean Day 3 of Testimony

Cesar Laurean Day 3 of Testimony


We heard from 11 additional witnesses on Friday bringing the total witnesses, so far, to 22.  Pretty fast pace!

We even had the feed problems we have come to expect!

So, what did we learn Friday?  My theory on the fence and bonfire were confirmed.  The computer forensics was pretty damning in my opinion!

I found the testimony of CWO2 Joel Larsen was actually painful.  He had very high praise for his former charge and it was obvious he admired Laurean’s skills and felt he had a real career in the Marine.  In fact, Larsen used the word ‘stellar’ to describe Laurean.  Watching Larsen on the stand it was apparent how difficult it was for him to know what Laurean had done and just how uncomfortable he felt.

Mary Lauterbach

There was an indication that the prosecution may wrap-up their case on Tuesday.  Mary Lauterbach is still expected to take the stand, but it is not known whether it will be today or tomorrow.

Well, they were late getting the feed going – not a good omen!

First up today is Matthew Clifton, SBI Agent.  He was the last witness on Friday. He helped to process the Laurean house and found Cesar’s passport in the home office area.  He identifies several photos of the passport that are entered into evidence and published.

In the master bedroom they looked for evidence and photographed the room.  The, bed, a dresser, and laundry baskets that contained a T-shirt.  Photo’s entered into evidence and published.  The shirt, brand Quick Silver, has a specific emblem (surfing related) that is similar to the ATM photos.

So, the T-shirt issue just got pretty neatly tied up!  It was found in the bedroom and also captured on film at the ATM.

Clifton also examined the black, Dodge Ram truck that belonged to Laurean.  He identifies the photos taken during processing.  They are entered and published.

The registration is actually in Cesar’s father’s name.

During processing they found a Marine hat and shirt as well as a picture of Cesar and Christina.  A bag was located in the floor area of the back seat.  A white toothbrush was in the bag.


McNeil wants to know if he spoke with Brevick when he processed Maria’s car?  No, sir.

This is the second witness McNeil has asked that of.  The only Brevick I find on the witness list is a Lance Corporal.

You looked in the trunk?  Yes, sir.

You saw a lot of military stuff in the trunk?

Did you try to lift prints from the For Sale Sign?  No, sir.

You found prescription drugs in the glove box?  Yes sir.

39 Prozac pills?  Yes sir.

Did they belong to Lauterbach?  I don’t recall.

He tested 2 stains at an Idlebrook residence for blood which were negative.  He doesn’t know who the residence belonged to.

Back to the Laurean residence.  You could tell a female resided there?  Yes sir.

You saw gray blocks in the backyard?  Yes sir.

You saw Sheriff Brown walking in that area?  Yes sir.

So you took no footprints because the Sheriff walked through there?  Correct.

Sheriff Brown made a diving rod out of a hanger?  Yes sir.

Did you find that odd?  Yes sir.

Clifton also searched Christina’s SUV.  He found fibers, a newspaper and a possible blood stain in the carpet.

Clifton is released.

Special Agent Steven Combs, SBI is called.  He went to Laurean’s house to assist processing.  A number of agents were present processing the interior as well as the yard. He processed the garage and they found blood in the garage.

Combs identifies a number of sketches of the home and takes the jury through the sketch of the garage and the numerous items contained there – storage containers, dryer and washer, lawn mowers and a dining room table, etc.  Combs says not every item is captured in a sketch.

Recess called.

The State wants the witness to be able to testify, in his opinion, stains appeared to be blood.

McNeil says that is what he is objecting to.

Judge says he will rule as it comes up.

11:15 Court back in session.  Combs takes the stand again.

Combs said the first step is to photograph the scene and then he begins to examine items he feels are evidence and packages them as to procedure.

Agent Combs identifies an exhibit, a swab used to remove what appeared to be blood.  Combs said he believes there was a great deal of blood in the garage.

Lee takes him through a bunch of photos of the garage that he identifies.  All the items appeared to have bloodstains.  The photos are admitted in evidence and they are published.

All the containers were stacked in front of the small area of dry wall that was painted tan.  The containers had bloodstains.  Paint cans had a great deal of bloodstains on them.

There was a toy pool raft that was folded and at the bottom of the pile that contained a great deal of blood.

Laurean went through a great deal of trouble to try to cleanup the scene, but wasn’t very thorough!

And, the feed drops…this is beyond annoying that they can’t get this right!   This is so wrong! 10 minutes downtime watching the street in front of the courthouse and watching some reporter primp, mic test and recap this morning.

Will they do this if a verdict is being announced?  Yup, I’m cranky!

Back in court reviewing exhibits.  Again, all the exhibits are of bloodstains taken from the garage.  The photos are identified and published.

This is totally tedious as there is a gazillion exhibits from the garage.  Copious blood spatter was everywhere!

Lunch called at 12:41.

2 pm Court resumes.

Combs back on the stand for cross.

McNeil has no questions!

On the stand is Noel Strawn. DOD surplus contractor.  He helped out, part-time, at a woman’s dry cleaning and alteration business, Thu Ha.  It was located right outside the gates at Camp LeJeune.  Laurean and Lauterbach used to do business there.  He saw Laurean drop of Maria to pick up her clothes and he parked right in front of the door.  He spoke directly with Laurean about parking in front of the door.  He saw them together two times.


McNeil wants to know how many customers would come in daily.  On a busy day sometimes 35 people would come in.

Maria would come in every 2 weeks.  The first time he saw them together was September ’07.  Both times he saw them, they were in civilian clothes, not uniforms.

He saw both Laurean and Lauterbach come in individually at times also.

January 2008, NCIS came and spoke to Strawn.

So once again, they ignored the protective order?

Witness released.

Next is Deputy Linwood Foy, Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.  He worked at Lowe’s back then.

He was asked to download video in the Jacksonville store.  He burnt a disc and turned them over to detectives.

This would be Laurean buying, cinder blocks and wheelbarrow, etc.

Foy identifies the photos dated 12/16/2007 around 4:30-5pm!

McNeil on cross.

At the time you were working at Lowe’s in security?  Yes, sir.

He’s done.

Dennis Ward is called.  He was in the Marines back in 2007.  His wife is Samantha. He was stationed at LeJeune from 3/06 to 7/09.  He knew Laurean from being in the same unit.

Did you ever go to his house?  Yes.

Did you know he was married?  Yes, sir.

Did your wife ever go with you to Cesar’s house?  Yes, sir.

He went to Lowe’s with Laurean and helped him pick up the items to build a fire pit.

He was there when Laurean bought the cinder blocks, wheelbarrow, and a dishwasher.

He identifies photographs from Lowe’s and he and Laurean are shown in the photos with the items.

They returned to Laurean’s and put the cinder blocks in the backyard.  He also noticed the fence was down in sections and Cesar was digging the pit.

Laurean’s wife pulled into the driveway 45 minutes later.  And they brought the dishwasher into the house.  It was missing a part so he wanted to go get the part.  He went with Laurean and was dropped off at home.

Laurean asked Ward if he wanted a crowbar to which Ward responded yes.

Murder weapon being handed off!

Ward identifies the crowbar for Lee.  Ward noticed a piece of tape on the top of the crowbar that appeared to have a blood drop on it after he saw the news about what had been going on.

He, his wife, and kid went to Laurean’s house.  They exchanged gifts, watched TV, and ate.

Laurean told Ward an investigation was pending, but he didn’t rape Maria.

On the 11th Ward and family went to Maria’s sister house, but Laurean wasn’t present.

Ward said he willing gave a DNA sample and turned over the crowbar to the Sheriff’s Office and also gave full statements to the Sheriff’s Office and NCIS.

He identifies a photo of the fire pit.

McNeil asks how many times he was interviewed by the Sheriff’s Office.  Several times.

How did they treat you?  They were doing their jobs.

How many times did you visit the Laurean house?  Every few months.

How long did he have the broken fence?  All the time.  That’s why he built the fire pit, to burn all the stuff in the backyard.

He knew of Lauterbach, but he didn’t know her personally.

He never saw her and Laurean together.

Obviously you touched the crowbar?  Yes.

No more questions.

Samantha Ward is called – Dennis’s wife.

She confirms they lived in Jacksonville and that she knew the Laurean’s and had been to the house 3 or 4 times.

In December she was visiting family in California.  She called her husband on December 16 and he said he was at Lowe’s with Lauren.

She came back on the 17th.  Christmas day, they all went to the Laurean’s.  She never was in the back yard.

She handled the crowbar to bag it and to bring to the Sheriff’s Office.  She gave a DNA sample.

McNeil wants to know if Mr. Laurean always treated her well.  Yes sir.

David South is called.  He is with OCSO, Criminal Investigator.  He received the crowbar on the 12th of January.  He interviewed both Dennis and Samantha.

He identifies the crowbar.

He was at the bus station on an unrelated case and Maria’s car was not there on January4.


How many times did you look in that lot?  Just the 4th.

Did you touch the crowbar?  No.

Were you the lead investigator?  Yes.

When were you assigned the case?  The 4th.

You were reassigned?  Yes, on the 8th.  It was turned over to Det. Cavanaugh because South was out sick.

3:18 Recess called.

Next witness Bill Meredith worked for OCSO 14 years, Crime Scene Investigator.  He was responsible for the chain of custody of the evidence in the Laurean case.

He identifies a photo of a bloodstain and explains how it was transported to the evidence locker.

He identifies the crowbar.

He identifies the pink pool raft.  The paint supplies.  More blood samples.

This is all the evidence that Combs collected at the residence.

Meredith attended the autopsy at Chapel Hill and received part of Maria’s femur that he placed into evidence at the Sheriff’s Office.

He was in charge of transporting all the items to the lab.  He also picked up evidence from the Durham Police Department – credit card.


Do you have records with you?  Yes sir.

Were you present Jan. 8th when the blue Hyundai was searched?  Yes sir.

Did you photograph the Prozac pills?  I might have.

That’s it!

Jim Mahaffee is called.  Former SBI forensic tech and evidence control section.  He logged evidence that was brought in and placed it in the vaults.

He identifies the pink plastic raft he received from Bill Meredith.  He delivered it to technician Sara Clay.

Is it unusual for one technician to deliver evidence to another?  No sir.

He identifies a tan pillow that he also gave to Sara Clay.

He continues to identify gazillion items of evidence and this is a real snoozer!

Mc Neil – no questions!

Sara Clay is called. Evidence Tech with SBI.  She describes the chain of command procedure.

She goes through the tedious identification of items in evidence that you may have noticed, I am not memorializing!


You didn’t receive that last item till July 2010?  Correct.

Was that the only one?  No sir there were several – several swabbings from the crime scene and a piece of carpet we received.

Captain John Lewis is called, OCSO.  He transported some items to the SBI.

4:48 they drop the live feed…acccckkkkkk!

We now have a female in the middle of testimony.  No idea who the heck it might be.  This is so messed up.

Mike Washington is called.  Works at OCSO.  He transported items of evidence.

The video is current however the sound is from outside the court.  This is subtle brainwashing I think!

4:55 pm Ok, they are done now and so am I!!!!!

  1. Ritanita
    08/16/2010 at 9:53 pm

    Don’t you just love “chain-of-custody” testimony? It’s like watching paint dry. Necessary, but boring as all get out!

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