Former Marine Convicted Of Murdering Another Marine's Pregnant Wife
Christopher Brandon Lee was found guilty of the murder of Erin Corwin, a 19-year-old woman whose body was found in a mine shaft in August of 2014, on Wednesday. He now faces life in prison. Lee's conviction seals a convoluted and tragic case. Lee testified in court that he had strangled Corwin with a garrote constructed from a cord tied between two pieces of rebar, the Desert Sun reports. When he thought she was dead, he told the court that he then pushed her body down the mine shaft, head-first.
"I'm no longer scared to tell the truth. People have to know what I did," he said.
Lee claimed that he had not intended to kill Corwin. Rather, he said he snapped after he confronted her about his suspicion that she had molested his young daughter, the Hi-Desert Star reports. However, prosecutors believe that he had intentionally lured Corwin to a remote area to kill her in order to hide their alleged affair.
Corwin was the wife of Marine Cpl. Joshua Corwin, and the couple lived together on base in Twentynine Palms. Corwin was three months pregnant at the time. Officials now believe that Lee had been the father of Corwin's baby.
On the morning of June 28, 2014, Corwin told her husband that she was headed to Joshua Tree to scope out the park, as she planned on taking her mother there when she came to visit from Tennessee. Investigators later learned that Corwin had actually been going to see Lee. Lee was also a Marine who had been recently honorably discharged, and who was also married. Lee and his wife, Nichole, were neighbors to the Corwins, and also knew one another from volunteering at a horse rescue in Yucca Valley.
Corwin's car was found 8 miles from the park, but only a few blocks from the base, two days after she vanished. Texts on Corwin's phone led investigators to Lee, who changed his story about how he knew Corwin multiple times. Corwin's body was discovered at the bottom of the mine shaft on August 17 after weeks of searching, and authorities promptly arrested Lee, who had since relocated to Alaska, for her murder.