VISTA, Calif. (AP) — Three members of a sex bondage ring were ordered to stand trial Monday after six days of lurid testimony during which investigators outlined how they believe a Camp Pendleton Marine's wife was unwittingly lured to a violent death when she agreed to go on a dinner cruise.
Superior Court Judge K. Michael Kirkman said evidence suggested that 22-year-old Brittany Killgore was the victim of a plan to act out a fantasy. He ordered Louis Perez, 46, Dorothy Maraglino, 37, and Jessica Lopez, 25, to face trial on charges of murder, kidnapping, torture, attempted sexual battery and conspiracy.
Killgore agreed to go on the cruise with Perez after she asked for help moving furniture out of her apartment, according to investigators' testimony. Even then, she was reluctant and accepted only after Maraglino, Perez's roommate, gave her blessings to the date in a phone call.
Lopez told others in the bondage community shortly before Killgore disappeared that she planned to unleash an attack, Patrick Espinoza, a deputy district attorney, told the judge.
"We know from the evidence that that unsuspecting prey was Brittany Killgore," Espinoza said.
Despite the discovery of Killgore's blood in Perez's car the day after her disappearance, defense attorneys argued that physical evidence was lacking.
Lopez's attorney, Sloan Ostbye, called her client "the perfect slave" in the triangle and said her role explained why Lopez authored a handwritten letter taking full blame for Killgore's death. In the letter, Lopez claimed she killed Killgore out of fear that the woman would steal Perez, whom she described as her "master."
"It's not a confession letter, it's an exoneration letter ... to help mistress and master," Ostbye said.
Killgore disappeared in April 2012 after borrowing a purple evening gown for the cruise, according to prosecutors. Her nude, strangled body was four days later near Lake Skinner, north of San Diego.
Earlier Monday, the lead detective testified that a document attributed to Maraglino identifies her as a participant in a beating and asphyxiation.