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Marine accused of killing estranged wife appears in court

  • Story Highlights
  • Marine Cpl. John Wimunc accused of first-degree murder and arson for wife's death
  • Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden accused of arson and accessory after the fact to murder
  • Authorities awaiting identification of charred remains found on Sunday
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(CNN) -- A Marine accused of killing his soldier wife was advised of murder and arson charges against him in a brief hearing before a judge on Tuesday.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, police released this undated photo of 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc.

Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden, left, and Marine Cpl. John Wimunc are accused in the death of Holley Wimunc.

Marine Cpl. John Wimunc was charged with first-degree murder and arson for the death of Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc, 24, who went missing after her home was set ablaze last week.

Another Marine, Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden, was charged with arson and felony accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

The case has drawn national attention, but John Wimunc's lawyer cautioned the public Tuesday against forming an opinion on the case.

"He is to be presumed innocent," attorney D.W. Bray said outside the courtroom. "We have soldiers fighting all over to preserve that right. He should not be tried in the media."

A judge scheduled Wimunc's next court hearing for August 5.

Wimunc and Alden were stationed at Camp Lejeune, and Holley Wimunc was stationed at nearby Fort Bragg.

Joe Lenczyk, resident agent-in-charge for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Holley Wimunc and her husband were estranged and lived apart.

Authorities began searching for the missing soldier after her Fayetteville, North Carolina, apartment was torched July 10.

On Sunday, a witness found a charred body in a wooded area, but Fayetteville Police Detective Jeff Locklear said police were still awaiting a positive identification from the medical examiner. Video Watch Nancy Grace report on the missing soldier »

However, the lieutenant's father released a statement Monday saying his daughter, a mother of two and nurse at a military hospital, was dead.

Wimunc is the second female soldier from Fort Bragg to die under suspicious circumstances in recent weeks.

Spc. Megan Lynn Touma, 23, was seven months pregnant when she was found dead in a bathtub at a hotel in June, authorities said. Investigators say they are treating that death as a homicide.

Camp Lejeune also had a homicide case involving a female service member this year. The charred body of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, was found in January in the backyard of another Marine stationed at the base. She was eight months pregnant when she died.

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Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the case. He was arrested in Mexico in April, but because he holds citizenship in the United States and Mexico, he cannot be immediately deported and must go through the extradition process.

If he chooses to fight extradition, it could take two years to return him to North Carolina, authorities said.

All About Fort BraggMurder and HomicideNorth Carolina

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