By Ted Siefer
DOVER N.H. (Reuters) - The ex-girlfriend of a man accused of murdering a New Hampshire college student in October 2012 testified on Friday that the killing was the act of a man with a dark fantasy life that included dreams of forming a cult.
But defense attorneys worked to discredit the woman, the state's chief witness in a case that has riveted New England, noting that she shared his interest in the occult and lured the victim to the apartment where Seth Mazzaglia is accused of murdering the college student after a game of strip poker.
The witness, Kathryn McDonough, previously pleaded guilty to hindering the investigation into the death of Elizabeth Marriott, 19. McDonough is serving a sentence of 18 months to three years in prison.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Joachim Barth at Strafford County Superior Court, McDonough, 20, said Mazzaglia had visions of taking over the world.
"That's one of the reasons why he needed a cult that would do his every whim, why he needed an army of people who would do anything he asked them to," McDonough said in her fourth day on the witness stand. "He wanted to do something big."
Mazzaglia has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers said in opening statements last week that it was McDonough who killed Marriott during a sex act involving restraints.
McDonough first told investigators, shortly after Mazzaglia's arrest, that Marriott died accidentally.
McDonough has testified that she brought Marriott, a co-worker at a department store, to Mazzaglia's apartment to satisfy his sexual desires. When Marriott spurned his advances, he strangled her from behind with a rope and then raped her while she lay motionless.
Defense attorney Barth sought to undercut McDonough's credibility, asking about her acknowledgment that she used to have several "personas" - one of them a woman named Scarlett.
"It was a character, an alter-ego of sorts," McDonough said in a soft voice. "But I only had one stream of thoughts. I didn't need to embrace these other personas."
McDonough acknowledged that she shared an interest in tarot cards and the occult with Mazzaglia, who faces a possible sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted.
The trial is expected to continue for several weeks.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Shumaker)