A jury has found Seth Mazzaglia, the 31 year old Dover man accused of killing and raping 19 year old UNH student Lizzi Marriott, guilty of all charges, including first degree murder.
After Marriott died, investigators found neither Lizzi Marriott’s body, nor any direct evidence of her murder. A guilty verdict in this trial would depend entirely on the credibility of the crime’s only eyewitness, Kat McDonough: the now 20-year old ex-girlfriend of Seth Mazzaglia.
The problem was that McDonough had spread a web of lies in the wake of Lizzi Marriott’s death. Would the jury trust her sworn testimony?
In this case, the answer seems to be yes. Early Friday afternoon, defendant Seth Mazzaglia arrived at the courthouse. Wearing his characteristic black vest, Mazzaglia stood reactionless as he heard the verdict.
The jury found Mazzaglia guilty of first degree murder; of knowingly committing the murder before, after or during a felonious sexual assault; of conspiracy to commit tampering with witnesses or informants; and of conspiracy to commit falsification of physical evidence.
Afterwards in a room across from the courtroom, the victim’s father, Bob Marriott, read a prepared statement. A guilty verdict, he said, is what his family had hoped for.
“Unfortunately a trial, even with a conviction, cannot console us over the loss of Lizzi,” Marriott said. “We will always miss her, and wonder what could have been.”
Marriott continued, saying “the trial has been torturous for us. The truth of what happened to Lizzi is horrendous, and every time it has been told, it has reinforced the despair that we feel.”
During the trial, the defense played footage from before McDonough and Mazzaglia’s arraignments. McDonough had volunteered information to the public defenders office, saying Lizzi Marriott’s death was an accident – and that it took place while the two women were having consensual sex.
Once on the stand, McDonough told jurors the consensual sex story was a lie she had told to protect her then-boyfriend, Mazzaglia. Nevertheless, the defense used the possibility that Lizzi Marriott had consented to rough sex to argue reasonable doubt.
And that, says Lizzi Marriott’s father Bob, was the most emotionally distressing part of the trial for the Marriott family.
“Blaming a victim who is unable to defend herself,” Marriott says, “is a typical defense used by defense teams. If you are dead, you cannot correct a mischaracterization.”
Ultimately, Bob Marriott and the prosecuting attorney, Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward, thanked the 16 jurors for their time during a trial that lasted nearly a month.
Judge Steven Houran has said Seth Mazzaglia’s sentencing will take place at a later date. But in NH, the automatic sentence for first degree murder in the state of New Hampshire is life in prison without parole.