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U.S. Marine pleads guilty to murder of Fil-Am reservist

Murder victim Alvin Bulaoro (left) and confessed killer Kevin Coset. BULAORO FAMILY/NBC7

SAN DIEGO, California — After the prosecutor’s opening statement, a man who was once a Camp Pendleton-based U.S. Marine changed his plea and acknowledged killing an Army reservist in a California motel in 2012 — a brutal attack in which the victim was stabbed 44 times and shot twice.

Defendant Kevin Coset, who represented himself in court, agreed Tuesday to plead guilty to murder and allegations that he used a gun and a knife to kill Alvin Bulaoro, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Prosecutors agreed to drop a special circumstance allegation, which could have sent Coset to prison for life without parole.

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Bulaoro, 24, was found dead zipped up in a sleeping bag inside a 1997 Toyota 4Runner on Jan. 3, 2013.

He had suffered two gunshot wounds to the head, 44 stab wounds and his throat was slit almost from ear-to-ear, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner.

Detectives said Coset and the victim exchanged a phone call and 29 text messages between Dec. 20 and Dec. 21, 2012. Bulaoro was reported missing on Dec. 23.

The device Coset allegedly used to contact Bulaoro was a “pay as you go” phone purchased on Dec. 19, according to detectives. Investigators saw that Coset was one of the last numbers Bulaoro had contacted, which led to his arrest on Feb. 22 at Camp Pendleton.

Evidence in the preliminary hearing revealed Coset had a journal, in which he allegedly wrote about the killing.

NCIS detective Jason Keller read the following excerpt from Coset’s diary at a pre-trial hearing:

“Tonight I had to kill for the third time. It was a guy named Alvin Bulaoro in Fallbrook. It was definitely a him or me situation. I find no joy in killing but must survive in my fight against the evil Musgrove organization. They have been plotting against me for years now as well as entering my mind and stealing my intelligence.”

According to the arrest warrant, Bulaoro and Coset had met up in an Albertson’s parking lot in Fallbrook. Detectives said surveillance video shows that the suspect parked his car in the lot, got into the victim’s Toyota 4Runner, and the two men drove away.

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The arrest warrant also quoted the victim’s brother telling investigators that his brother was gay, and may have been headed for a popular San Diego gay bar when he was first reported missing on Dec. 23.

Bulaoro was enlisted in the Navy for four years. He worked as a human resources officer at Camp Pendleton, helping Marines with pay, benefits and housing issues.

During that time, he got his bachelor’s degree. After leaving the Navy, he became a lieutenant in the Army.

Coset, 27, faces up to 51 years to life in prison when he is sentenced April 20.

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