It’s been over a year since the body of 19-year-old Marine wife Erin Corwin was pulled from a 100 foot mine shaft in Joshua Tree, California. The State of California alleges that Erin was murdered, and the motive was an unwanted pregnancy. Before Erin was found, the State searched for seven very long and agonizing weeks for Erin. Thus, by the time the State was able to perform an autopsy on the body that was pulled from the mine shaft 7 weeks later, a pregnancy was unable to be confirmed. But, if you asked Erin’s family about her health on the day that she died, the pregnancy was happening. What happened? WATE 6 ABC reports Sept. 22 that Christopher Lee appeared in Joshua Tree Superior Court today for a pre-trial motion on what will be the trial for the murder of Erin Corwin.
The State of California is accusing Christopher Lee of first degree murder. The State also alleges that Christopher Lee is guilty of a special circumstance of first degree murder, a circumstance termed “lying in wait.” It’s as creepy as it sounds.
And, according to California Penal Code 190, if found guilty, Christopher Lee is facing either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. In the State of California, a jury will have to unanimously find him guilty of first degree murder, and also unanimously find him guilty of lying in wait for him to face these penalties. The State of California finds that the charge of “lying in wait” implies an intent to murder.
In order for the State to prove “lying in wait” beyond a reasonable doubt, they will have to prove that the accused concealed his intent from Erin, “waited and watched” for the opportunity to execute his plan, and surprised her “from a position of advantage.” The State will also need to show that the “killer intended to kill the victim by taking them by surprise” according to Shouse California Law Group.
So yes, it is as creepy as it sounds. On the morning that she died, Erin Corwin told her husband she was leaving to go and check out some hiking trails. Nobody that loved her ever saw her alive again.
What she thought she was really doing was heading out on a romantic rendezvous with her lover, who was not only her neighbour but also the father of the child she was carrying. That man is Christopher Lee. His wife is Nichole Lee, who would make many peculiar statements during the time that Erin was missing.
Those statements were along the lines of, “They’ll never find a body.” Before they could, Christopher Lee and Nichole Lee booked it with their daughter to Alaska. Nichole is still there. Though she has not said much publicly since the arrest of her husband, we do know that she has a history, prior to the murder, of keeping her hunting license up to date.
Christopher Lee was in the military, and so it is not peculiar to understand that he is familiar with guns. As it turns out, his wife probably is too. The jury will hear that bullet casings that were found in the Lee’s Jeep after the murder, matched casings that were found near Erin Corwin’s body in the mine shaft in Joshua Tree National Park.
The jury will also hear that Erin may have been strangled, as she was found with a nylon garote around her neck. The jury will see that the nylon garote found in the Jeep registered to the Lee’s matched the nylon found on Erin. And that’s only what we know so far, there is much more evidence in this case expected to come to light.
With the stakes this high, the wheels of justice are moving slowly as the defense works every legal maneuver they can to ensure a rigorous defense for Christopher Lee. With these facts, it’s not looking good for him. Today all parties met in court for a pre-trial hearing according to Z 107.7 Sept. 21.
It was a brief hearing regarding one of the defnese hubaloos over which judge was going to preside at this trial. As Z 107.7 reports, this hubbaloo has a paper trial that goes back a few months in the case. In April, criminal defense attorney David Kaloyanides wanted to use one of his peremptory challenges to remove the judge.
Judge Cortez denied this motion, and the defense took it to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in California. This court has rejected the rejection, and ordered Judge Cortez to pass the gavel on. These are the matters that were heard in court today.
According to the minutes on the court docket, Deputy District Attorney Ron Webster argued for the State today. David Kaloyanides was present for the defense. Kaloyanides is no secret to high profile trials. As we have previously reported David Kaloyanides was the lead defense lawyer on the high profile copyright infringement case with Guns ‘N Roses.
The new judge appointed to this case is Superior Court Judge R. Glenn Yabuno. Judge Glenn Yabuno is a Democrat who was appointed to the bench by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010. He attended California State University and got his law degree at the Santa Clara University School of Law.
He has a very long history working in the Deputy District Attorney’s office, and knows crime. A cursory look at reviews of this judge on the justice review site Gavel Bangers gives Judge Yabuno 5 star ratings all across the board. Reviews indicate he is a fair and balanced judge, and is known to enforce authority with inmates in his courtroom. One review indicated,
“I have known this man when he was in law school back in 1982… as a brother to me ..I can say honestly , you could not find a more respectful person to make a fair decision.”
The change of judge on this case ended court today. Court was continued today until Sept. 24 for further pre-trial hearings.
In the meantime, Christopher Lee remains in San Bernardino County Jail. Watch this heartbreaking video of Erin’s mother, while the search for Erin Corwin was still ongoing.
What do you make of the wife in this case, Nichole Lee? Do you think Christopher Lee deserves the death penalty?