Cpl. Cesar Laurean, 22, wore a bulletproof vest under an orange jail jumpsuit as he appeared in Onslow County District Court. He replied, "Yes, sir" when Judge Paul A. Hardison asked if he understood the charges.
Before the hearing, investigators served Laurean with a search warrant seeking a DNA sample.
He was extradited from Mexico on Friday to face a first-degree murder charge in the death of 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach of Vandalia, Ohio.
Authorities said he fled in January 2008, shortly before Lauterbach's burned remains were found buried in his backyard in Jacksonville. Investigators believe she was killed the month before.
Lauterbach, who worked with Laurean at Camp Lejeune and was eight months pregnant, had accused him of rape, but later recanted her claim that he was the father after her conception date was recalculated following a doctor's examination. Investigators said last year they would seek a DNA sample when he was returned to the United States.
Laurean attorney Dick McNeil said after the brief hearing he may try to get the trial moved to a different county because media coverage has been extensive.
"If it was a betting thing, Vegas would take it off the board," McNeil said. He said he wouldn't file any motions until he read the 6,000 pages of discovery documents he expects this week from prosecutors.
District Attorney Dewey Hudson said a judge will decide whether to move the trial once a motion is filed. Another hearing is scheduled for May 18.
Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said a news conference that the unusual case proves "you can't get away from the long arm of the law." Mexican authorities captured Laurean just over a year ago in the small town of Tacambaro, Mexico.
"Through all my many years in law enforcement, no crime committed in Onslow County or anywhere else has generated so much public response," Brown said.
Laurean is charged with first-degree murder, robbery with dangerous weapon, theft of a financial transaction card, attempted fraud with a financial transaction card and obtaining property by false pretense.
He faces a life sentence if convicted because Hudson agreed not to seek a death penalty so Mexico would agree to extradition.
The Marine Corps said last week it would administratively discharge Laurean.
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