Ex-U.S. Marine accused of killing pregnant lover pleads not guilty

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. (KABC) -- An ex-U.S. Marine pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a Joshua Tree court to charges of murdering his alleged lover.

Christopher Brandon Lee, 24, is accused of killing the pregnant wife of a Marine corporal and throwing her body down a 140-feet mine shaft outside Joshua Tree National Park two months ago.

Husband of Erin Corwin, 19, reported her missing on June 29, a day after she was last seen. Investigators said she was supposed to meet Lee the day she went missing.

In July, Lee was arrested on suspicion of possessing a destructive device after a search warrant was served at his Yucca Valley home. He was taken into custody after the July 4 search and released on bail two days later.

He was arrested again on Aug. 17 in connection with Corwin's murder.

Lee's attorney David Kaloyanides believes authorities considered him a suspect the entire time.

"I don't know of anyone who's ever been arrested and held on a charge of possessing a potato gun. Now, destructive device is different, but the item was a cannon or a potato gun." Kaloyanides said.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department believes Corwin and Lee began their affair in February.

At a vigil held for Corwin on Monday, Michelle Doute said it is important to support the husband and honor the victim despite the affair.

"We need to remember that she's a person first. She's a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend and so much more to so many different people, and that's who she needs to be remembered as," friend Michelle Doute said.

Prosecutors have yet to decide whether or not to seek the death penalty.

Lee is expected back in court on Sept. 16th. He is expected to stay in jail and is not allowed to post bail

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