A retired marine accused of killing his girlfriend in Panama, dismembering her body and dumping her remains in the jungle before undergoing an elaborate scheme to cover it up, pleaded not guilty to federal charges.
A federal grand jury in San Diego indicted Brian Karl Brimager, 37, on first degree murder charges Friday for the killed Los Angeles woman Yvonne Baldelli, the U.S. Attorney's Souther District of California's Office said.
Brimager pleaded not guilty to one count of foreign murder of a U.S. national, obstruction of justice and false statement to a federal officer.
Assistant U.S. Attorney W. Mark Conover wrote earlier in April that his office would pursue charges against Brian Brimager for foreign murder of a U.S. national, according to a status report filed.
Brimager is suspected of killing Baldelli, 42, who went missing while they were on a 2011 vacation in Central America.
The U.S. Assistant Attorney General in Washington D.C. recently gave the local office written approval to prosecute Brimager. Conover said they plan to seek an indictment against him before April 17 and arraign him on that day.
According to the court document, prosecutors are still waiting on the results of a DNA test and tool mark comparison examination in the case, which they should have next month.
In September 2011, Brimager, a former Camp Pendleton Marine, and Baldelli traveled to Panama to stay on Isla Carenera, an island off the coast accessible only by boat. Baldelli was last seen with Brimager at a Panamanian restaurant on Nov. 26, 2011.
Prosecutors say Brimager killed Baldelli and later disposed of a bloody mattress at their hostel. According to another indictment, Brimager had used Baldelli’s laptop to search how to get blood stains out of a mattress.
The suspect is accused of then packing up Baldelli’s belongings into garbage bags and leaving them on the dock outside their hostel.
Throughout this time, prosecutors allege Brimager posed as Baldelli and sent emails to her friends and family to make it seem as though she was alive. The emails said she met another man and was going to Costa Rica with him. Brimager then allegedly used her ATM card in Costa Rica and San Jose.
When investigators questioned the suspect about Baldelli’s disappearance, they said Brimager lied to them and claimed she took her laptop to travel. That same laptop was found in his possession in 2012, at which point he changed his story and said the device never went to Panama and he never sent emails from it.
Nearly two years after she vanished, Baldelli’s body was found on a small island off the Isla Carenero coastline. Scientists used DNA analysis on her skull and bones to identify her.
Brimager is back in the U.S., though charges are pending against him in Panama.
NBC 7 is attempting to reach out to Brimager’s defense attorney for a comment on this story.