By Dan Tuohy/NH Patch
Accused murderer Seth Mazzaglia's defense continued cross-examination of the state's key witness by questioning the very tears she shed – or didn't shed – on the witness stand as she testified about the murder of Lizzi Marriott.
Defense attorney Joachim Barth asked McDonough about code words she and Mazzaglia used for sex and how she received a text with one of the alleged phrases – "Are we painting tonight?" – right before she said
the man she wanted to marrystrangled and raped Marriott on Oct. 9, 2012.
McDonough then began slowly sobbing June 10 in Strafford County Superior Court in Dover, N.H.
"Cry without tears, Miss McDonough?" Barth asked.
"Cry without tears," he repeated.
"I don't know. Sometimes, I guess," McDonough said.
The exchange was the latest in a series in which Barth tried to impeach the credibility of the state's lead witness. McDonough, 20, struck a deal with the state last year to testify against Mazzaglia. She is serving one and a half to three years in prison, with two similar sentences suspended.
McDonough said she couldn't get the image of Marriott out of her head when she tried to remember some of the details of that night.
While she has testified before the jury that Mazzaglia strangled Marriott before raping her lifeless body, the defense claims McDonough was responsible for the death because she actively recruited and "lured" the 19-year-old Marriott into their apartment.
McDonough admitted to the conspiracy and to throwing away evidence, but Barth and co-counsel Melissa Davis contend she was more than a "submissive" player in the relationship with Mazzaglia.
Previous testimony included messages that indicated McDonough's penchant for rough sex, and her interest in having a young woman join their bondage and sadomasochism relationship. She insisted on the stand that she was following Mazzaglia's demands.
Barth, however, portrayed McDonough as a more controlling and manipulative person – one capable of shedding crocodile tears on the witness stand.
Earlier on June 10, Barth referenced evidence of McDonough telling another witness that she would not have to testify against Mazzaglia if the two were married.
The defense then played a recorded jailhouse phone call between Mazzaglia and McDonough, in which McDonough broached the subject of the two getting married.
"I'm glad you approached me with that," Mazzaglia said when she told him she had researched online how they could marry.
It was the first time the jury heard Mazzaglia's voice during the trial.
Mazzaglia, on the recorded phone call, replied that he wished there could be more "pomp and circumstance," but he said there would be time for that after they got "through this."
"Cool," he said on the call, with a chuckle. "It's scary how on the same wavelength we get sometimes. I like it. It's nice. It's nice to know we think alike, even with our variances, but the variances are what makes it fun."
The jailhouse call ended as the two spoke like a young couple without a care in the world.
"I love you," McDonough said. "Always and forever."
"I love you, too," Mazzaglia said. "Always and forever."
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