Santa Rosa Marine charged with Army reservist's Southern California murder

  • February 26, 2013_Vista_|Defendant Marine Cpl. Kevin Coset in Vista court Tuesday.| Bill Wechter/ U-T San Diego|_Mandatory Photo Credit:Bill Wechter/ U-T San Diego/Copyright 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC

A Marine corporal from Santa Rosa is charged with first-degree murder in the San Diego-area slaying of an Army reservist.

Kevin Albert Richard Coset, 23, a former Montgomery High School student, is accused of killing Alvin Bulaoro, 24, whose body was found Jan. 3 in an SUV parked outside a Fallbrook grocery store.

Coset, who was stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton, is charged with lying in wait and using a gun and knife. The special circumstances make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

He was arrested about six weeks after Bulaoro's body was discovered Jan. 3. The Army Reserve officer was last seen Dec. 21.

San Diego County prosecutors Thursday would not reveal a motive for the slaying or say what led them to Coset. Detectives did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.

However, at Coset's arraignment March 11, Deputy District Attorney Stephen Marquardt said the victim and Coset had known each other before agreeing to meet the night of Dec. 21, according to U-T San Diego.

Marquardt said the two met in a Fallbrook parking lot, then went to a nearby motel room, which Coset paid for. The newspaper quoted the prosecutor as saying Coset "savagely ended Mr. Bulaoro's life," slitting his throat and shooting him twice in the head. Bulaoro also was stabbed repeatedly in the head and torso.

A preliminary hearing is set for Monday. Coset has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail. His bail is set at $5 million, said his lawyer, Pal Anthony Lengyel-Leahu.

He said Coset did not know the victim and there is nothing connecting him to the murder. "As of right now, I'm shaking my head because I don't know why they are going in this direction," the lawyer said.

He said police named Coset a suspect based on a "credit card swipe" linked to the slaying. Also, he said authorities claim to have surveillance video of Bulaoro meeting with an assailant in the parking lot.

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