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Third defendant pleads not guilty to murder charge in death of Marine wife

May 15, 2012 |  4:53 pm

Brittany Killgore

A third suspect pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of murder in the death of 22-year-old Brittany Dawn Killgore, the wife of a Marine at Camp Pendleton.

Dorothy Grace Marie Maraglino, 36, was arrested in a hotel in downtown San Diego on Thursday night by San Diego County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives and Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents.

Maraglino entered her plea in the Vista branch of the San Diego County Superior Court. Her bail was set at $3 million.

Staff Sgt. Louis Perez, 45, and Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, have already been charged. Killgore's body was found dumped near Lake Skinner in Riverside County. Perez and Lopez have pleaded not guilty and are each being held on $3-million bail.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick Espinoza said Maraglino helped persuade Killgore to go on a dinner cruise with Perez. Killgore had once visited the home in Fallbrook that Maraglino, Perez and Lopez shared.

Within minutes of being picked up by Perez, Killgore sent a text message to a friend saying she was in "distress" and needed help, Espinoza said. Perez was the last person seen with Killgore on April 13.

The killing occurred at the Fallbrook home, Espinoza said. Killgore had once been at the house when she accompanied a friend who was buying something advertised on the Internet by someone living in the house, he said.

Killgore's blood was found in Perez's vehicle, along with a weapon, prosecutors have said. Lopez was arrested in a San Diego motel April 17 after allegedly attempting suicide; hours after her arrest, Killgore's body was located.

Killgore had filed for divorce from her husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, just days before she disappeared and was preparing to move to Missouri, where she has family. Her husband was serving in Afghanistan but has returned to the U.S. on emergency leave arranged by the Red Cross.

He and Perez served at Camp Pendleton.

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Brittany Dawn Killgore. Credit: San Diego County Sheriff's Department