DOVER, N.H. — A former cellmate of the man prosecutors say raped and killed a University of New Hampshire student testified Monday that the defendant had elaborate plans to escape jail and hire someone to hurt or kill two witnesses in his case.
Former cellmate Ryan Bachman testified that Seth Mazzaglia asked him to obtain a gun, two cars, and disguises to use in a jailbreak planned for a date he was scheduled to go to court for a hearing in the slaying case of Elizabeth ‘‘Lizzi’’ Marriott, 19.
Mazzaglia, 31, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of the Westborough, Mass., teenager. Prosecutors said he strangled and raped her when she rebuffed his sexual advances on Oct. 9, 2012, in the apartment he shared with Kathryn ‘‘Kat’’ McDonough, then his girlfriend.
Mazzaglia’s lawyers said that McDonough killed Marriott during rough sex involving restraints. They told jurors he helped dump the body into a river that feeds into the ocean and initially took blame for her death out of his ‘‘obsessive’’ love for McDonough.
Bachman and Mazzaglia were cellmates in the medical unit of the Strafford County jail for a week in December 2012.
Bachman testified that Mazzaglia wanted someone to hurt or kill a couple who were slated to testify against him. Bachman did not recall their names, but said Mazzaglia did give him the address.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Hinckley told jurors in his opening statement that Mazzaglia created an elaborate plan to kill Roberta Gerkin and Paul Hickok, two friends who were called to Mazzaglia’s apartment after Marriott was killed.
Gerkin testified she cut two plastic grocery bags from Marriott’s head and described a line on her neck where her pale torso met a complexion Gerkin described as ‘‘purplish.’’
‘‘If they were taken care of — killed or something — they wouldn’t have much of a case against him,’’ Bachman said Mazzaglia told him. Bachman also testified that Mazzaglia told him ‘‘it would help his case tremendously’’ if he could hire someone to do the job.
Bachman said Mazzaglia gave him the identification number for his debit card and directions on how to retrieve the card from McDonough. He testified that he visited McDonough when he got out on Dec. 24, 2012, got the card and drained Mazzaglia’s account of about $800 to $1,000. Bachman said he spent the money on drugs.
Defense attorney Melissa Davis challenged Bachman Monday about why he did not tell Mazzaglia his escape plan was ‘‘impossible’’ and instead took the money and ran.
‘‘I wouldn’t tell him anything that came out of his mouth was crazy,’’ Bachman replied. ‘‘I shared a cell with him 24 hours a day.’’
McDonough had met Marriott just weeks earlier at a department store where they both worked, authorities say.
Marriott texted a friend after a night class on Oct. 9, 2012, to say she was going over to Kat’s apartment to watch a movie, investigators said.
Once there, Marriott willingly engaged in a game of strip poker with McDonough and Mazzaglia, but rebuffed Mazzaglia’s sexual advances, prosecutors said.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley told jurors that Mazzaglia slipped up behind Marriott as she sat on a couch with McDonough watching a movie and put a rope around her neck and jerked her back sharply.