A jury has found a Dover man guilty of the murder of 19-year-old University of New Hampshire student Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott.
Jurors in Strafford Superior Court deliberated for less than two days before finding 31-year-old Seth Mazzaglia, a community theater actor and karate instructor, guilty of first-degree murder by strangulation.
The jury found Mazzaglia guilty of additional charges related to Marriott's death – murder in the commission of felony sexual assault and two counts of conspiracy related to Mazzaglia’s efforts to tamper with and falsify evidence.
Mazzaglia will receive an automatic punishment of life in prison without parole. No date has been set for his sentencing.
Marriott went missing in October 2012 on her way to meet friends in Dover. Police searched the area around Peirce Island in Portsmouth for weeks, but Marriott's body was never found.
Prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of Kathryn McDonough, Mazzaglia’s former girlfriend, who initially told investigators that Marriott had suffocated accidently while the two women were having sex.
After she was indicted for hindering apprehension and prosecution, McDonough struck a deal with prosecutors and testified that Mazzaglia raped and strangled Marriott after she refused his sexual advances.
Mazzaglia did not take the stand during 2o days of testimony, which wrapped up Wednesday.
Speaking shortly after the verdict was delivered, Marriott's father, Bob Marriot, thanked jurors on behalf of the family for convicting Mazzaglia, but said it "cannot console us over the loss of Lizzi."
"The truth of what happened to Lizzi is horrendous," Marriott said, "and every time it has been told it has reinforced the despair that we feel."
Marriott had harsh words for Mazzaglia's attorneys, accusing them of purposely misrepresenting his daughter's behavior to put doubt in jurors' minds.
"Blaming a victim who is unable to defend herself is a typical ploy used by defense teams," he said. "If you are dead, you cannot correct a mischaracterization."