VISTA, Calif. (AP) — A judge is expected to rule Wednesday on whether to unseal search warrants in the investigation into the death of a Camp Pendleton Marine's wife whose body was found near a Southern California lake in April.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Runston Maino planned to issue his decision at a hearing Wednesday in Vista, Calif.
Ten news organizations, including The Associated Press, are seeking access to at least 18 warrants in the investigation. The warrants were approved by judges in three different courthouses.
Three roommates have pleaded not guilty to murder: Louis Ray Perez, Jessica Lynn Lopez and Dorothy Maraglino. Prosecutors say 22-year-old Brittany Killgore disappeared after agreeing to go on a dinner cruise with Perez, who is also a Marine.
Investigators have not revealed a possible motive for the killing.
U-T San Diego obtained a suicide note from Lopez, who turned 25 on the day Killgore disappeared. Lopez was found by paramedics four days later in a San Diego motel with what authorities called minor, self-inflicted cuts.
In the note, Lopez describes grabbing Killgore's ankle when she entered their Fallbrook home, slamming her into the stairs, shooting her with a stun gun and strangling her with a rope. Lopez wrote that she drove to the beach to dump handcuffs and a knife in a portable toilet, according to the newspaper. She claimed she drove to the lake to dispose of Killgore's body.
A person familiar with the case confirmed the note's descriptions to The Associated Press. That person spoke on condition of anonymity because the note remains under seal by a judge's order.
The judge held off last week on ruling, saying he had not read all the search warrants yet.
Perez's attorney, Jeff Reichert, told the judge then that he supported unsealing the warrants. At a hearing before another judge in April, he said Lopez's note shows "very, very clearly" that she killed Killgore and that his client was not involved.
Lopez's attorney, Sloan Ostbye, has said that she wanted the warrants to remain sealed. Maraglino's attorney, Sean Leslie, said at last week's hearing that he couldn't take a position because he hadn't read all of the warrants.
The San Diego County district attorney's office argued that unsealing the documents may jeopardize the defendants' right to a fair trial, damage an ongoing investigation and violate the victim's privacy.
Guylyn Cummins, the attorney representing the news organizations, said in her motion that speculative fears about pre-trial publicity does not stand as an argument for keeping the warrants sealed, especially in a city with a jury pool as large as San Diego's.
"The media is unaware of any compelling interest that has been demonstrated by anyone to support secrecy of the search warrants in this case," she said.
All three defendants were being held on $3 million bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 21.
Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.