AD Main Menu

Waiving extradition, suspect in Marine wife murder will be transported to California

Jerzy Shedlock
During a Thursday morning hearing in Anchorage, Christopher Brandon Lee (shown here on Tuesday, Aug. 19) waived his rights against extradition to California, where he’s accused of murdering 19-year-old Erin Corwin. Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News

During a Thursday morning hearing at the Anchorage Correctional Complex courtroom, ex-Marine Christopher Brandon Lee waived his rights to fight extradition to California, where he’s accused of murdering 19-year-old Erin Corwin.

Assistant District Attorney Heather Nobrega said Lee, 24, made the decision after consulting with his attorney in California. The state of California will pay for his transfer, she said.

On Tuesday, San Bernardino, California District Attorney Michael Ramos announced that a murder charge was filed against Lee. The felony complaint says that Lee killed his alleged lover "intentionally ... by means of lying in wait."

Defendants wanted for charges in other states generally choose to waive extradition rights, Nobrega said.

“They sit here in jail and nothing happens with the case,” she said. “Their speedy trial rights aren’t started yet because they’re not in the state where they’re facing the charges.”

Deputy District Attorney Clint Campion said law enforcement personnel from San Bernardino are coordinating with Alaska officials. He expects that by the weekend Lee will be on his way back to California.

According to court documents out of San Bernardino, Lee is believed to have killed Corwin, his neighbor, with whom authorities say Lee was having an affair. Corwin’s husband, Marine Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, reported Erin missing on June 29 after she didn’t return from a trip to Joshua Tree National Park the previous day.

Search warrants indicate Lee became the focus of Corwin’s disappearance, though investigators said the missing-person case wasn’t criminal and they had no suspects. However, police searched Lee’s residence and vehicles, according to court documents.

Lee moved back to Alaska after posting bail for suspicion of possessing a destructive device, which turned out to be a potato gun, and an honorable discharge from the Marines. Eight weeks passed, and searchers combed areas in Joshua Tree National Park. Corwin’s body was discovered Saturday; San Bernardino police quickly obtained two arrest warrants for Lee.

The Anchorage Police Department’s Special Assignment Unit and the FBI surveyed Lee until they could set up a traffic stop and make an arrest Sunday, according to police chief Mark Mew.

The state charged Lee with being a fugitive from justice. Nobrega requested bail be set at $2 million “cash only,” which the court granted. She said once it’s determined that Lee is no longer housed at the Anchorage jail and has left the state, that charge will be dismissed.