By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times –
SAN DIEGO — The blood of Brittany Dawn Killgore was found in the car of Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Perez, a prosecutor said Thursday as Perez was arraigned on a charge of murder in the death of the 22-year-old wife of a fellow Marine.
Also, the night she was set to attend a dinner cruise in San Diego with Perez and his girlfriend, Killgore sent a text message to a friend indicating she was in “distress” and needed help, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza said.
Perez, 45, pleaded not guilty during the hearing in the Vista branch of San Diego County Superior Court.
Judge Kimberlee Lagotta set bail at $3 million — the same as for Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, also charged with murdering Killgore, whose body was found near Lake Skinner in Riverside County.
Perez was seen with Killgore on April 13. On April 15, Perez was interviewed by San Diego County sheriff’s deputies about her disappearance. He was arrested on suspicion of possessing a stolen assault rifle and labeled a person of interest in Killgore’s disappearance.
Lopez was found April 17 in a motel in San Diego after attempting suicide, authorities said. She left behind a note, which apparently assisted searchers in finding Killgore’s body.
Perez’s attorney, Jeff Reichert, told Lagotta that in the note, Lopez admits killing Killgore and exonerates Perez. Lagotta sealed the note.
A weapon was found in Perez’s car, the prosecutor said, but declined to say whether authorities believe it was the weapon used in Killgore’s killing. No cause of death or motive has been announced by authorities.
Perez and Lopez are set to return to court May 10 for a readiness hearing.
Killgore had filed for divorce from her husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, just days before she disappeared. He was serving in Afghanistan but has since returned on emergency leave arranged by the Red Cross.
He and Perez served at Camp Pendleton. Perez and Lopez lived at the same address in Fallbrook, near where Killgore lived.