Man pleads not guilty in death of deployed Marine's wife

Brittany Killgore had recently filed for divorce from her husband, who was serving with an artillery unit in Afghanistan.

Story highlights

  • Marine sergeant pleads not guilty in woman's death
  • Authorities have said he was with Brittany Killgore when she was last seen alive
  • Killgore's body was found in a rural area; authorities haven't said how she died
On the day one of two suspects in his wife's death was arraigned, a deployed Marine said Thursday he was devastated but wanted to ensure her death was not in vain.
"My wife, Brittany, was beautiful beyond words and her murder has left me devastated. My duty to her memory is now to ensure her good reputation remains intact, and help law enforcement and prosecutors secure justice for the person or persons who took her away from me," Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore said in a statement.
Marine Staff Sgt. Luis Ray Perez, 45, was arraigned on a suspicion of murder charge in San Diego County, California, in the death of Brittany Killgore, 22. He pleaded not guilty, according to CNN affiliate KGTV.
Perez was with Brittany Killgore on April 13, the last time she was seen alive, according to authorities.
Brittany Killgore had recently filed for divorce from her husband, who was serving with an artillery unit in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, investigators said. He was granted an emergency leave to return to the United States when he learned his wife was missing.
"Brittany's death cannot be in vain -- at this point, I don't know how to use this tragedy for good, but others have found their way and I hope to do the same," Cory Killgore said.
Body of Marine's missing wife found
Body of Marine's missing wife found


    Body of Marine's missing wife found


Body of Marine's missing wife found 01:17
Prosecutors said the victim was to go out to San Diego's Gaslamp quarter with Perez, who is based at Camp Pendleton, and a female friend, who decided not to go.
"Brittany sent a text message, in distress, asking for help, shortly after the point in time when Mr. Perez was with her," Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza told KGTV.
Perez was questioned after a friend filed a missing person report for Killgore, officials said. He was charged last week with two felonies unrelated to Killgore's death, receiving stolen property and possession of an assault weapon, and he has pleaded not guilty, authorities said.
Authorities last week charged Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, with first-degree murder in connection with Killgore's death. She has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Lopez would face 25 years to life in prison.
Investigators on April 17 found Killgore's body in a rural part of neighboring Riverside County. Authorities have not said how she died or what they believe links the suspects with her death.
Lopez's relationship to Killgore has been unclear. KGTV in San Diego reported that authorities found Killgore's body based on leads stemming from Lopez's arrest.