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Marine pleads not guilty to Brittany Killgore murder

The body of Brittany Killgore, seen in this undated photo, was found on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

April 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A 45-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine has pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of another Marine's wife.

Staff Sgt. Louis Ray Perez has been a person of interest since the disappearance and murder of Brittany Killgore. Police believe he was the last person seen with the 22-year-old woman.

Perez, a 16-year Marine, was ordered held on $3 million bail.

Brittany Killgore disappeared four days after she filed for divorce from her husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, who was serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Her body was found naked and dumped on April 17 near Lake Skinner in Riverside County, about 25 miles from her apartment in Fallbrook.

Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza said Brittany Killgore was supposed to go out in downtown San Diego on April 13 with Perez and another woman, but the other woman backed out. Later that night, Brittany Killgore sent a text message to a friend saying she was in distress and needed help, Espinoza said.

Perez told investigators that he dropped off Brittany Killgore downtown, but he was actually in Fallbrook, according to the prosecutor. Police searched his vehicle and found the victim's blood and a weapon.

Perez's roommate, 25-year-old Jessica Lynn Lopez, has also pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. A note she wrote before an apparent suicide attempt was what led investigators to Brittany Killgore's body.