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Justices hear appeal of Marine convicted of killing pregnant comrade

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RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) -- A former Marine convicted of killing a fellow Marine wants his conviction overturned. Today the state court of appeals heard arguments from both sides in the case.

It's somewhat unusual for a victim's family members to show up at one of these hearings, but when the justices came into the courtroom Mary Lauterbach was there all the way from Ohio. She listened as the attorney for her daughter's killer went first.

A jury convicted Cesar Laurean last year of the first-degree murder of pregnant Cpl. Maria Lauterbach in 2007.

Laurean's attorney argued he should get a new trial because the judge in his case did not allow jurors to consider a lesser charge of second-degree murder. While there was plenty of evidence that Laurean killed Lauterbach, the attorney told the appeals court there was also evidence the crime might not have been premeditated.

Attorneys for the state argued that the judge did the right thing and that the fact that laurean burned the body was proof of premeditation.

It was all difficult for Lauterbach's mother.

"It's always difficult to hear these details over again - the violence against my daughter. That'll never be easy," Mary Lauterbach said.

Months before Lauterbach's death, she accused Laurean of raping her.

Lauterbach's mother says this is an especially difficult time, because tomorrow would have been her daughter's 24th birthday.

The appeals court is expected to rule on this case some time early next year.

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