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An hour in the California trial, ex-Marine returns to the dead

VISTA, California. – After the prosecutor’s opening statement, a former Marine changed his plea and acknowledged killing of an Army reservist in a motel in California in 2012 — a brutal attack in which the victim was stabbed 44 times and shot twice.

The Union-Tribune reported that defendant Kevin Coset, who represented himself in court, agreed Tuesday to plead guilty to murder and allegations that he is a gun and a knife to kill Alvin Bulaoro. Prosecutors agreed to drop a special circumstance allegation, which could have sent Coset to prison for life without parole.

The 27-year-old facing 51 years to life in prison when he is sentenced April 20.

Bulaoro, 24, went missing Dec. 21, 2012. Almost two weeks later, his body was discovered in a sleeping bag on the back seat of his car outside a supermarket in Fallbrook, which is about 54 miles (87 kilometers) north of San Diego. Prosecutors said messages between Coset and Bulaoro indicated they had a sexual relationship.

Detectives learned through cell phone records that Bulaoro had planned to meet up with someone the day he went missing, according to the court documents. The researchers traced the texts to a pre-paid mobile phone. Surveillance video captured a man buys on the phone, but he used cash.

Weeks later, detectives learned of the sleeping bag is a style that is sold on the basis of Camp Pendleton, which is only a few miles away, and found that someone had used a credit card for the purchase of a on the basis of the number of hours before Bulaoro disappeared.

The same card was used later that day to pay for a Fallbrook motel room. It had an extra $100 charge for damage, including a missing comforter and a large pool of blood. No one in the motel called authorities to report.

Although the room was cleaned in the weeks after the attack, detectives found Bulaoro blood under the carpet and the upholstery. It was also on the walls, ceiling, and furniture, according to court documents.

Authorities arrested Coset outside his barracks in February 2013.

Coset previously deemed to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. The procedure was delayed while he was in a state hospital. He was later found to be competent and, after a psychiatric evaluation he received permission to represent himself.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.utsandiego.com

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