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Fallout: New Vegas– Why has the Caesar marked me for Death?

I’m about few hours into New Vegas and I found myself in the middle of a scripted event where I was attached by a pair of Caesar’s Legion assassins.  They deliver a little speech about how the Caesar has marked me for death, blah blah blah.  It seemed a little early in the game to have two higher level assassins jump me, &I wondered why my reputation had suddenly jumped from 0 to Vilified status with the Legion.  I had only killed 3 or 4 Legion goons on my trip to Novac.  So while setting up my hotel room in Novac, I realized what must have happened.  When I was coming up the road past the Wolfhorn Ranch at the top of the hill, I met a trader caravan and we were attacked by Legionaries.  I killed them and looted the bodies…using the “Take all” command.  It turns out that when I was stashing loot in the hotel in Novac, I saw I had been carrying a Legion Ear in my inventory.  One spawned on one of the fallen Legion soldiers and I picked it up by accident.  Taking grisly trophies must have earned me vilified status instantly.  I reloaded an earlier save, killed way more same CL goons, never saw another ear, I only took their weapons and food, none of their armor…and I still have 0 status with them according to my PIP-Boy.

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