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CA judge delays ruling on slain Marine's wife

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ELLIOT SPAGAT | June 20, 2012 03:43 PM EST | AP

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VISTA, Calif. — A judge on Wednesday delayed ruling on whether to unseal search warrants in the murder investigation of a Camp Pendleton Marine's wife, saying he needed more time to review the documents.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Ruston Maino said he hadn't read all 18 search warrants that 10 news organizations, including The Associated Press, want unsealed. A prosecutor told him there were even more.

The media groups are seeking access to the warrants in the murder investigation of 22-year-old Brittany Killgore, whose body was found near a Southern California lake in April. 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 Killgore disappeared after agreeing to go on a dinner cruise with Perez, who is also a Marine.

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.

Perez's attorney, Jeff Reichert, told the judge 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, said Wednesday that she wanted the warrants to remain sealed. Maraglino's attorney, Sean Leslie, said he couldn't take a position because he hadn't read all of the warrants.

The judge scheduled another hearing next Wednesday.

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.

All three defendants were being held on $3 million bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 21.