By Debbie Gregory.
A former Marine has been convicted of killing the wife of another Marine and pushing her head-first down an abandoned mine shaft in the remote California desert.
Christopher Brandon Lee, 27, had previously pleaded not guilty to killing 19-year-old Erin Corwin, with whom Lee’s suspected of having an affair. He later admitted in court that he had strangled Corwin.
Corwin’s body was found hidden 100 feet down a mine shaft in a remote area of the high desert near Joshua Tree National Park after a nearly two-month search. She had disappeared in June 2014.
Friends told investigators that Corwin, whose husband was stationed with Lee at the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base, believed she was pregnant and that Lee might be the father.
“I made the decision to kill her,” Lee testified. “I was controlled by the anger. The hate I felt that day. It was something I never want to experience again.”
Lee said he approached Corwin from behind and strangled her for at least five minutes with a garrote made up of two pieces of rebar and a cord. He said he then dragged Corwin’s body to the mine shaft and pushed her in head first.
Jurors also found true a special sentencing enhancement that Lee was lying in wait for Corwin.
“This was a terrible crime that showed absolutely no regard for the value of human life,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said in a statement issued shortly after Lee’s conviction. “Erin Corwin was just a young girl with her entire life ahead of her. And now, all that’s left is her memory.”
Lee’s sentencing has been set for Nov. 29. He faces life without the possibility of parole.