FALLBROOK, Calif. – A former Camp Pendleton Marine corporal who allegedly admitted to murder in a diary found by investigators has now admitted to the brutal slaying in court, pleading guilty this week shortly after his trial began in the murder of a Navy veteran and Army reservist from Fallbrook.
Kevin Albert Richard Coset, 28, was back in jail Thursday awaiting sentencing for the 2012 murder of 24-year-old Alvin Bulaoro, whose body was found zipped inside a sleeping bag in his SUV in a Fallbrook parking lot about two weeks after his family reported him missing. Coset and Bulaoro were allegedly involved in a sexual relationship prior to the killing, in which Bulaoro was stabbed 44 times and shot twice in the head.
Coset, who was representing himself at trial, requested a meeting with the judge and prosecutor after Deputy District Attorney David Uyar finished giving his opening statement to jurors Tuesday in Vista, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. During the conference, Coset agreed to plead guilty to murder and allegations that he used a gun and knife in the slaying.
As part of the plea deal, the prosecutor agreed to drop a special circumstance allegation that could have sent Coset to prison for life without parole, according to the Union-Tribune. Coset will instead face up to 51 years to life in prison.
According to the prosecutor’s trial brief, sheriff’s investigators had few leads when they found Bulaoro’s body on Jan. 3, 2013, zipped inside the sleeping back in the backseat of his Toyota 4Runner, the Union-Tribune reported. Through cell phone records, they learned that on the day he disappeared, Bulaoro was planning to meet up with someone he was having a sexual relationship with.
Investigators learned that person was using pre-paid cell phones purchased with cash, and though they were able to find video surveillance of the man who bought the phones, they were unable to identify him, the newspaper reported, citing Uyar’s trial brief.
The break in the case came when investigators looked closer at the sleeping bag, which they learned was a model sold on Camp Pendleton, according to the trial brief. On the military base, they were able to find surveillance of a man who paid for the sleeping bag with a credit card shortly before Bulaoro disappeared. They later identified the buyer as Coset, who also matched the man seen buying the pre-paid cell phones.
From there, detectives followed an investigative trail that led to a Fallbrook hotel room, where Coset stayed the night of the murder and where they found evidence of Bulaoro’s blood under the carpet and on walls, furniture and ceiling, the Union-Tribune reported.
Sheriff’s investigators arrested the then-23-year-old Marine corporal on Feb. 22, 2013, outside his barracks on Camp Pendleton, where they found the gun used in Bulaoro’s murder and a journal which 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. It was a guy named Alvin Bulaoro out of Fallbrook.”
Coset — who later would be found mentally incompetent to stand trial – – also wrote in the journal about an organization that had allegedly plotted against him, entered his mind and stole his intelligence, according to the trial brief cited by the Union-Tribune. While his case was pending, Coset was sent to a state hospital for mental-health treatment until he was deemed competent once again to stand trial.
Bulaoro had served in the Navy before being discharged and joining the Army Reserves. At the time of his death, he worked as an administrator in a family-owned home healthcare business.