Christopher Lee, 27, admitted in court to killing his married mistress, 19-year-old Erin Corwin, in June 2014
Lee initially pleaded not guilty to her murder after her body was found in a mine shaft near Joshua Tree National Park in California
The two lovers were both married but to other people, Erin’s husband Jonathan Corwin is a Marine too
The former Marine said he strangled her and threw her body down the shaft because he thought she’d molested his six-year-old daughter
He said he had been playing Russian roulette before the murder and had been planning suicide
DA told him off for lying to investigators – the closing arguments in the case will be heard Wednesday
Lee faces a charge of first-degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for lying in wait
Caught in duplicity: married ex-marine Christopher Lee (left) was having an affair with Erin, his neighbor who was also married to fellow marine, Jonathan Corwin (seen in photo right with his wife, Erin). He lured her out to the desert, killed her and threw the body down the abandoned mine shaft in the photo below
A California man on trial for the murder of his mistress, caused a stir in court on Monday as he recanted his earlier ‘Not Guilty’ plea and admitted in court to strangling his 19-year-old victim then throwing her head-first down a mine shaft.
Former Marine Christopher Lee, was accused in 2014 of killing 19-year-old Erin Corwin, wife of fellow marine Jonathan Corwin, then throwing her body down a 140ft mine shaft. He denied the claim at the time, but now says he needs to own up.
Lee,27, shocked the courtroom when he admitted killing his secret lover.
‘I’m no longer scared to tell the truth. People have to know what I did,’ he told San Bernardino County Superior Court Tuesday, according to The Desert Sun.
Erin Corwin was married to another Marine, Jonathan but was also pregnant – with Lee’s child was expecting a marriage proposal the day her lover killed her
After his outburst, deputy district attorney Sean Daugherty asked Lee whether he guilty of strangling and killing Erin Corwin, his neighbor and wife of fellow marine, Jonathan Corwin. Both times Lee replied “Yes I am”.
Christopher Lee his wife Nicole were neighbors with the Corwins at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms when Erin vanished in June 2014.
Her body was found in a mine shaft in a remote part of the desert near Joshua Tree National Park two months later. Erin Corwin had been having an affair with her neighbor, behind her husband’s back
Christopher Lee seen (left) with his wife Nicole and daughter, Liberty, were neighbors with Erin and Jonathan Corwin (right), before the two secret lovers found they were expecting a baby and Christopher killed Erin in 2014
Suspicion quickly fell on Lee who initially denied responsibility for her disappearance and death. Later discoveries in the murder investigations appeared to link him with Erin’s death. Investigators uncovered that he had been researching how to dispose of bodies online prior to her disappearance. Physical evidence including fired 22-caliber bullet casings and rebar found at the scene were also linked to Lee by investigators.
Two weeks prior to her disappearance, Erin Corwin had let her lover know she was pregnant. Investigators who say Lee was the father, have suggested that he killed Corwin because he was afraid his wife, Nicole, would leave him and take their six-year-old daughter, Liberty, along.
Christopher Lee (top) in court claimed he garroted his mistress after she admitted to molesting his 6-year-old daughter (seen in photo below with Lee and wife Nicole)
While prosecutors have said he plotted his lover’s death, Lee maintains he ‘snapped’ and killed Corwin after she admitted to molesting his daughter,
In court Monday, Lee painted the events leading to her death for the jury. In calm a tone he explained that he killed the Corwin not because of her pregnancy, but because he was caught up in a fit of rage. He confirmed that they had met outside the mine for what she believed would be a romantic evening and possibly a marriage proposal. However, Lee said, he was actually there contemplating suicide and had been entertaining thoughts of killing himself for a month because he was denied deployment.
Lee said he was there playing Russian roulette at the scene, entertaining thoughts of suicide and further incensed when Corwin admitted to molesting his daughter.
Star crossed lovers: The illicit affair between the married pair ended in a desert bound case of homicide. Christopher Lee (left) has admitted in court to strangling Erin Corwin seen right before disposing of her body in the middle of the desert. Corwin was pregnant with his child
The molestation allegation came after Lee said his wife, Nichole, bathed their daughter one night, and said she found redness and irritation in their daughter’s private area. Nichole who didn’t know about the affair between Corwin and her husband at the time, accused Corwin of being responsible for the abuse.
At that point Lee said he became seriously depressed and had thoughts of committing suicide.
On the day of Corwin’s death, Lee testified that he drove her to a mineshaft located about two hours from their home in Twentynine Palms. That’s where he claims to have confronted Corwin about the molestation allegation.
He said “something clicked” when she told him she wanted to be a part of his life because she loved his daughter.
Lee seen in court arranged to meet Corwin by a disused mine shaft. Police say he lured the victim out to the desert, then garroted her with a cord tied to two pieces of rebar and threw her in head-first into an abandoned mine shaft
He said he asked Corwin, “Did you touch (his daughter)?” She did not respond. “Did you molest my daughter?” he asked her. He said she replied, “Yes, but….”
“It set me off,’ Lee said. ‘I just felt so much hate.”
He said he garroted her from behind with a cord tied to two pieces of rebar.
“I wasn’t going to let anyone hurt my daughter again,’ he said. ‘I looked, I didn’t see any rise and fall of her chest… I didn’t care”.
After she dropped to the ground, he checked her for vital signs. When he was sure she was dead, the threw her down the shaft head-first.
‘I made the decision to kill her,’ Lee added. ‘I was controlled by the anger. The hate I felt that day, it was something I never want to experience again.’
Corwin’s body was found in the abandoned mine shaft on August 16, 2014.
Erin Corwin’s body was discovered about 140 feet down the old, dark Rose of Peru mine shaft two months after she disappeared
Happy times: Pregnant Erin Corwin died on the day she thought her lover was going to take up with her forever
Police maintained all along that Christopher Brandon Lee, the man the former marine Corwin had an affair with, murdered her and left her body there. The crime report said tire marks and bullet casings Lee left behind, led investigators to him.
The defendant’s attorney contends that the killing was not premeditated.
Lee faces a charge of first-degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for lying in wait.
DDA Sean Daugherty admonished Lee for lying to cops, and claimed that the ex-Marine had only waited this long because he ‘wanted attention’ by admitting the murder in front of a jury.
Lee began crying as the court adjourned for lunch.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.