Newly released court documents contain testimony and text messages from Corwin

By Jeff Truesdell
Updated April 24, 2015 02:05 PM
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Credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff/AP

The accused killer of Erin Corwin, the Marine wife whose decomposing remains were found in a California desert mine shaft last August, maintained his plea of not guilty Wednesday as a judge ruled that the case should proceed toward trial.

This comes after pre-trial testimony suggests suspect Chris Lee told a neighbor multiple times that he could easily kill someone and knew where to hide a body.

Conor Malakie, who lived near both Corwin and Lee, also testified that he saw a white propane tank in Lee’s Jeep on the morning last June that Corwin vanished, reports KESQ.

A white propane tank, containers filled with gasoline and blue climbing rope – similar to rope later discovered in Lee’s Jeep – were discovered with Corwin’s body in the remote location near Joshua Tree National Park.

Lee’s attorneys want the murder trial moved, The Desert Sun reports.

According to text messages entered into evidence that Corwin allegedly exchanged with a friend, the 19-year-old, who was married to another man, had anticipated a proposal from her alleged love Lee – who was also married – when they traveled into the desert June 28. Her husband, U.S. Marine Cpl. Jon Corwin, knew about the affair.

Corwin’s body was discovered Aug. 16. Investigators testified that she was strangled and suffered blunt force trauma, but due to decomposition, they’ve been unable to verify Corwin’s belief as shared with others that she was several weeks pregnant at the time.

In text messages, Corwin had shared her excitement about her rendezvous with Lee on that day last June. “The location is only half the surprise,” she texted to a friend, Jessica Trentham. “He said he’s honestly not sure how I’m going to react … Seriously, I don’t know why he would drag me to a very special place … for a big dumb surprise.”

In a statement on Wednesday to KESQ, the Corwin family said: “We are coping the best that we can given the circumstances. It is very difficult to be so far away while the case is proceeding but we have complete faith in the San Bernardino County DA’s office that justice will be served swiftly and without prejudice.”

Lee is next due in court May 25.

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