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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cesar Laurean Pleads Not Guilty

Right: Maria Lauterbach
June 8, 2009
By Parul Joshi
Eye Witness News 9.

The plea is the result of Cesar Laurean’s arraignment this afternoon on first degree murder, armed robbery and financial card fraud charges. In all, Laurean spent about five minutes in court.

Cesar Laurean walked into the Onslow County courtroom without shackles, avoiding eye contact with the cameras and everyone else. He did not show any reaction to what was going on.
The state told Judge Charles Henry it would not seek the death penalty against Laurean. A decision the state doesn’t like.

District Attorney Dewey Hudson says, "We contend this should have been tried as a capital case and that there were aggravating factors but, unfortunately we can’t because of the agreement we entered with Mexico many years ago."

Laurean remained silent as his attorney Dick McNeil entered the “Not Guilty” plea on his behalf. Now, the state gets ready for trial, aiming for fall. That’s not sitting well with the defense.
McNeil says, “I do have a heavy load. I think the state is presumptuous thinking I can get this done by October or November this year.“

McNeil says he has 3,000 pages of material to go through to prepare for trial. He wants a trial in March. He also doesn’t think Laurean’s being treated like everyone else as Sheriff Ed Brown claims. Laurean remains in a private cell constantly, except for a total of four hours every week.
McNeil says, “I think the whole policy is hypocritical. He’s treating Mr. Laurean like he’s treating everybody else, but it’s kind of b.s. if you know what I mean.“

McNeil says he knows of inmates receiving that kind of treatment for behavior issues, but according to McNeil, Laurean doesn’t have any behavior problems noting the staff has been good to Laurean and Laurean in turn has been getting along well with jail staff. Sheriff Ed Brown says he has not had any problems with Laurean and insists his treatment is what other inmates would receive. Brown says he wants to ensure Laurean’s protection.

McNeil also criticized the Sheriff’s rules limiting inmates’ reading material to the Bible and their legal papers. McNeil says, “It doesn’t make any sense to deprive these people who are presumed innocent to not be allowed to utilize their brain and have something to do.“

Sheriff Ed Brown stands by his general reading material policy telling Nine On Your Side it’s the best way to protect all the inmates. As for Laurean’s location, Brown says some inmates verbally harassed him when he got there. So, he moved him to a private cell for his own safety. Brown said Laurean didn’t complain, but some of the jail officers overheard the statements and reported it to their superiors.

I asked Sheriff Ed Brown whether Laurean was wearing a bullet proof vest and after he did some checking he said yes; though he was surprised because according to Brown - Laurean should be treated like every other inmate. Brown says there’s no reason for Laurean to be wearing a bulletproof vest stating that any other inmate charged with First Degree Murder wouldn’t wear a bullet proof vest.

Laurean’s attorney Dick McNeil says he’s not going to seek bond. He also said that Laurean has been able to see his wife and daughter on the weekends. Next up will be pre-trial motions scheduled for July 20th. Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown tells us he talked to Laurean for the first time today. He told Laurean he doesn’t want the suspect treated any differently than any other inmate. Brown said Laurean was polite, respectful and responsive.

Nine On Your Side has been following every angle of this story since it began almost a year and a half ago.

It started on December 19, 2007, when Maria Lauterbach’s mother reported her missing.
Less than a month later on January 11, 2008, police found the remains of Lauterbach and her unborn baby in a fire pit in Cesar Laurean’s backyard.

An arrest warrant for Laurean came the next day. A grand jury indicted him for Lauterbach’s murder on January 24, 2008
On April 10, 2008, police in Mexico arrested Laurean. He stayed in prison there for a year fighting his extradition. Then on April 17, 2009 Cesar Laurean came back to the United States. He made his first court appearance 3 days later.

On May 15, 2009 the Marine Corps announced it administratively separated Laurean from the Corps. Again, today Cesar Laurean officially pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. 9 On Your Side will stay on top of this story as it progresses.

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