A former Marine and two female friends -- all three practitioners of sadomasochism -- were ordered Monday to stand trial for murder in the death of the 22-year-old wife of a Marine who was deployed in Afghanistan.
At the end of a weeklong preliminary hearing in Vista, San Diego County Superior Court Judge K. Michael Kirkman ruled there is sufficient evidence to have the three face trial on charges of murder, kidnapping, torture, attempted sexual battery and conspiracy in the strangling death of Brittany Killgore.
Former Staff Sgt. Louis Perez, 46, Dorothy Marie Maraglino, 37, and Jessica Lopez, 25, have all pleaded not guilty. The three lived in a home in Fallbrook near the apartment where Killgore lived.
Killgore's nude body was found in a ravine in southern Riverside County days after she was reported missing April 13. Killgore had filed for divorce from her husband, who was deployed to Afghanistan when she disappeared after allegedly going on an outing with Perez.
Perez had boasted that he planned to hold a sadomasochism session that weekend, according to evidence submitted during the preliminary hearing.
Perez, Maraglino and Lopez were involved in "bondage, torture and master-servant-slave" behavior, according to evidence submitted by prosecutors. Maraglino calls herself a dominatrix, and Perez particularly likes to spank women, according to search warrants.
Killgore had agreed to go on a dinner cruise with Perez the night of April 13 in exchange for his help in moving her belongings out of her Fallbrook apartment.
"After getting into Perez's vehicle and leaving with him, nobody has seen or heard from Killgore," according to an investigator for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
Within 13 minutes of getting into Perez's truck, Killgore reportedly texted a friend, "Help." Moments later the friend texted back, "Brittany are u okay I am freaking out here."
According to an investigator's statements in a search warrant, there is no evidence to suggest that Killgore knew of Perez's sexual habits that included bondage, whipping, spanking and cutting. She was an "unwilling participant," according to the warrants.
Prosecutors assert that Perez took Killgore to his Fallbrook home and then texted Lopez and Maraglino to join him. In the house, investigators found "sex apparatuses, toys, and a sex dungeon," according to a search warrant.
Among the items found were ropes, whips, a Taser, a nightstick and spiked gloves. Perez and the victim's husband, Cpl. Cory Killgore, were both assigned to Camp Pendleton. Perez was on active duty when arrested; he is no longer in the Marine Corps.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Brittany Killgore's body was found in a ravine in southern Riverside County days after she was reported missing April 13. Credit: San Diego County Sheriff's Department