Aug 22, 3:47 PM EDT

More than a dozen legal, law enforcement and victims' rights organizations say a murder victim's sexual past should remain out of the public eye



Multimedia
Interactive: Becoming a Teacher in Mid-career
Survey of College Fundraising (PDF)
AP Poll: Public Education
Report on Loan Options for Community College Students (April 17, 2008)
An Alternative to Special Education
Latest News
Special programs allowing Ohio college students to earn both their bachelor's and law degrees in a combined six years are cropping up around the state

A nonprofit group with New Hampshire roots is putting a new spin on back-to-school shopping by helping equip 10 classrooms for refugee children in Iraq

Lawyers for a New Hampshire prep school sex assault victim say parents and other alumni helped raise over $100,000 for her alleged attacker's defense team

Officials in South Carolina say two teenage sisters are facing charges after pepper spray was used during a fight on a school bus

A federal complaint accuses public schools in Virginia's capital city of more harshly punishing black students and students with disabilities than their peers

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- More than a dozen legal, law enforcement and victims' rights organizations told a New Hampshire court Monday that a murder victim's sexual past should remain out of the public eye.

Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott, of Westborough, Massachusetts, was a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire when she was killed in 2012. Seth Mazzaglia (muh-ZAYL'-ee-uh) was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life, but he is pursuing an appeal.

In June, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that information about Marriott's sexual activity that had been sealed during the trial should be made public during the appeals process, prompting objections from prosecutors and Marriott's family. On Monday, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and 12 other groups filed a brief supporting the family's request to keep the records sealed, and Mazzaglia's attorney argued that the court should not conduct the appellate process behind closed doors and on the basis of a secret record.

Lyn Schollett, the coalition's executive director, said the June ruling jeopardizes every crime victim's right to privacy. In the court filing, her organization and others argue that the state's rape shield law applies through the entire criminal process, including any appeals.

"Otherwise, the purpose of rape shield would be completely eviscerated," wrote the group, which includes the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, The National Center for Victims of Crime and Aequitas: The Prosecutors' Resource on Violence Against Women. "Rape victims are entitled to rely on the protective provisions of the rape shield statute and rule. To hold otherwise would defeat the purpose of the rape shield protections, discourage victims from coming forward and have a terrible impact on the state's ability to prosecute sexual assault crimes."

During his trial, Mazzaglia denied raping and killing Marriott but said he helped cover up the murder. His girlfriend at the time testified that she lured Marriott to Mazzaglia's apartment as a sexual offering and that Mazzaglia strangled Marriott when she refused his advances.

In his brief, appellate defender Christopher Johnson said neither state law nor rules of evidence regarding prior sexual activity apply on appeal because the state Supreme Court does not hear witnesses or receive new evidence. He also said concerns about the victim's privacy do not outweigh the right of public access to the documents and proceedings on which the court will decide the appeal.

Oral arguments before the state Supreme Court are set for Sept. 21.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.