Laurean pleads not guilty
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    Exclamation Laurean pleads not guilty

    Laurean pleads not guilty
    Comments 8 | Recommend 4
    June 8, 2009 - 2:30 PM

    Story updated at 4:54 p.m.

    A former Marine charged with murder in the 2007 bludgeoning death of a pregnant colleague pleaded not guilty Monday during his arraignment in court.

    Cesar Laurean, 22, is charged with first-degree murder and other crimes in the death of 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, whose burned body and that of her unborn child were found buried behind Laurean's Half Moon community home in early 2008.

    Prosecutors announced Laurean will not face the death penalty if convicted.

    "The decision has already been made pursuant to extradition," Chief Assistant District Attorney Ernie Lee said.

    Laurean was arrested in Mexico in April 2008 and returned to Onslow County earlier this year. He fled to his native country in mid-January 2008 after becoming the focus of an investigation into the disappearance of Lauterbach, who had previously accused him of rape. DNA tests conducted by the Department of Defense revealed that Laurean was not the father of Lauterbach's unborn child.

    "Mr. Laurean pleads not guilty," Laurean's attorney Dick McNeil told the court. Laurean remained silent throughout the brief hearing Monday afternoon.

    Both parties in the case agreed on a July 20 pre-trial conference where motions and a tentative trial date will be set.

    March 15, 2010, was suggested by the prosecution for the beginning of the trial. McNeil said he is still collecting evidence through trial discovery and had a lot of work to do, but he should be ready by then.

    Up next, the defense has a chance to ask for a change in venue. McNeil said the real question is "where," implying that he will seek the venue change. He said he has his eyes set on New Bern.

    Prosecutors have said they think Wilmington would be the better choice, if a judge rules a change is necessary.

    Contact Lindell Kay at 910-219-8456. Read his blog at


  2. #2


    McNeil says jail conditions might cause Laurean to 'deteriorate mentally'
    Comments 15 | Recommend 3
    June 8, 2009 - 5:37 PM

    The attorney of a former Marine charged with murder says he is concerned his client is only allowed to read the Bible while in the Onslow County Jail.

    Jacksonville lawyer Dick McNeil said client, Cesar Laurean - accused of beating a pregnant colleague to death in 2007 - is locked in his cell for long periods of time and not allowed reading materials. The combination might cause him to deteriorate mentally, McNeil said.

    "My client spends 164 out of 168 hours a week in a cell. You'd think you'd be a little stir crazy," McNeil said. "I think it affects him mentally, and as time goes on, it becomes more debilitating."

    Sheriff Ed Brown said his jail's policy allows for inmates to read the Bible or Quran and legal documents concerning their cases - and nothing more.

    Onslow County stands alone in that policy, according to a survey of a half dozen surrounding county jails conducted by The Daily News. Those jails do restrict certain material like pornography.

    "Everybody can't have what they want in jail," Brown said Monday. He said Laurean is being treated the same as any other inmate.

    McNeil disagrees. He said Laurean is kept in a locked cell while most other inmates are allowed to mingle in an open area. He also called the "blanket prohibition" of reading material "hypocritical."

    Brown said his policy "had nothing to do with what caused Mr. Laurean to be an inmate." He said inmates must expect to give up some rights when they are admitted to jail.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which has taken legal action in Virginia and Arizona against jails that would not allow reading materials, said the practice of forbidding all books and magazines except those of a religious nature is unconstitutional.

    "This is disturbing to think a jail would say you can read the Bible or the Quran, but not a secular magazine or newspaper," said Brian Godspeed, an ACLU spokesman.

    The Daily News offered 30 copies of the June 2 edition of the newspaper to Brown to be distributed among inmates in the jail.

    He refused, saying that the inmates would "burn them, smoke them, do anything but read them."

    Contact Lindell Kay at 910-219-8456. Read his blog at


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