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Closing arguments begin in lurid N.H. murder trial

By Ted Siefer

DOVER New Hampshire (Reuters) - Closing arguments began Wednesday in a New Hampshire murder trial that has riveted the New England state with details of the occult, sadomasochism and romantic betrayal.

State prosecutors have charged Seth Mazzaglia, 31, in the murder of Elizabeth Marriott, a University of New Hampshire student who was 19 when she disappeared in October 2012.

The state’s star witness is Kathryn McDonough, 20, the ex-girlfriend of Mazzaglia who reached a plea deal and agreed to testify against him. She said she lured Marriott to the apartment the couple shared as a sex offering to Mazzaglia, but that he flew into a rage after the victim rebuffed his advances. He strangled Marriott and raped her lifeless body, she said.

Mazzaglia has denied the charges and his lawyers have sought to the undermine the credibility of McDonough, portraying her as a manipulator who changed her story to avoid a long prison sentence. Before her plea deal, McDonough first told attorneys that Marriott died from a seizure.

The soft-spoken McDonough also testified that she and Mazzaglia put Marriott's body into a suitcase and dropped it into the Portsmouth harbor. Marriott’s body has never been recovered.

Over 19 days of testimony, details emerged of a twisted fantasy life shared by the couple that featured multiple personas, tarot cards and visions of taking over the world. Mazzaglia never took the stand.

Under the plea agreement, McDonough is serving 18 months to three years in prison for charges that include witness tampering and hindering the investigation.

Mazzaglia is charged with first-degree murder and could face life in prison if found guilty by the jury.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis)

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