A former Marine finally stood trial this week for the brutal killing of an army reservist in a California motel room, after five years of delays.
Then, just one hour into the trial, he reversed his plea to guilty, according to local reports.
Former Marine Kevin Coset, 28, was first arrested in February 2013 over the death of an Army reservist whose body had been found a month before, zipped up in a sleeping bag inside his SUV about 50 miles from San Diego.
Alvin Bulaoro was stabbed 44 times and shot twice in the head in December 2012, although his body was not found until Jan 3. 2013, reports CBS 8.
When Coset, who was representing himself in court, was finally brought to trial on Tuesday, March 13, he switched his plea just one hour into proceedings, after the prosecution had made their opening statement.
According to the San Diego deputy district attorney, Coset admitted to the murder in a plea bargain that dropped a special circumstance allegation—which could have meant life imprisonment without parole—reported the San Diego Tribune.
Bulaoro, 24, served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve and was also a Navy vet.
He went missing Dec. 21, 2012, and was reported by his family two days later. Two weeks later his brother found his Toyota 4Runner at a grocery store parking lot in Fallbrook, about 50 miles from San Diego. His body was in the back seat, inside the sleeping bag.
— San Diego Union-Tribune (@sdut) March 15, 2018
After several leads that turned into dead-ends, that sleeping bag put police on a trail that eventually led to Coset, after they realized it was a style sold on nearby Marine base at Camp Pendleton, just north of San Diego.
They checked and found that one had been sold on base in the hours before Bulaoro disappeared.
The card used to purchase the sleeping bag had been used to rent a motel room in Fallbrook, a few miles from the base. Police then discovered an additional $100 charge for damage, that included a large pool of blood—something motel staff had failed to report.
Police concluded that Bulaoro had been murdered in the motel room, and arrested Coset in February 2013.
In Coset’s barracks room at Pendleton, they found a journal, reported the Tribune.
One section read: “My name is Kevin Coset. I am 23 years old and currently serving in Marine Corps. Over the past few years, my life has been heading in a strange direction. Tonight I had to kill for the third time.
Coset wrote about something he called “the Musgrove organization,” which he said had entered his mind and stolen his intelligence.
After initially representing himself, criminal proceedings were put on hold when Coset was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial and was sent to a state hospital, reported CBS.
After a psychiatric evaluation, Coset was granted permission to represent himself last year.
He is due for sentencing on April 20 and faces a maximum of 51 years.