Marine accused in Brittany Killgore murder pleads not guilty

VISTA (CNS) – A veteran Camp Pendleton Marine accused in the death of a 22-year-old military wife who went missing after a planned night on the town pleaded not guilty Thursday to a murder charge.

Staff Sgt. Louis Ray Perez, 45, was ordered held on $3 million bail in the death of Brittany Killgore of Fallbrook.

Perez was arraigned last week on charges he stole a weapon and a motorcycle from a trailer at Camp Pendleton and was described by prosecutors at the time as a “person of interest” in Killgore's death.

Today, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza told Vista Superior Court Judge Kimberlee Lagotta that Killgore was supposed to go out in downtown San Diego the night of April 13 with Perez and another woman, but the other woman backed out.

Later that night, Killgore sent a text message to a friend saying she was in distress and needed help, Espinoza said.

Investigators subsequently contacted Perez, who said he dropped off Killgore downtown, when he in fact was in Fallbrook, according to the prosecutor.

Police searched Perez's vehicle and found the victim's blood and a weapon, Espinoza told the judge. Killgore's body was found April 17 in southern Riverside County near Lake Skinner.

Perez's roommate, 25-year-old Jessica Lynn Lopez, is also charged with Killgore's murder.

Perez's attorney, Jeff Reichert, told the judge that a note found when a suicidal Lopez was arrested in a Point Loma motel room exonerates his client.According to Reichert, the note written by Lopez indicates she killed Killgore and that Perez had nothing to do with the homicide.

But Lagotta, who agreed to keep the note under seal, said Perez represented a “serious danger” to the community and was deserving of high bail.

Espinoza refused to comment on reports that Perez had an interest in sadomasochism and bondage or how that may or may not tie into the case.

Killgore had recently filed for divorce from her Marine husband and had plans to move back to her hometown in Missouri.

Perez and Lopez, who will be back in court May 10 for a readiness conference and May 30 for a preliminary hearing, both face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Categories: KUSI