A teenager in Massachusetts accused of beheading his classmate and cutting off his hands out of jealousy in 2016 was found guilty in court on May 14.
The announced ruling in the first-degree murder trial of Mathew Borges, 18, stated that the teen killed Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, 16, with “deliberate premeditation with extreme atrocity and cruelty,”.
The prosecution presented 100 pieces of evidence and many witnesses over the eight-day trial. Viloria-Paulino’s family broke down when the verdict was read.
Borges was tried as an adult, and his attorney earlier asked the judge to dismiss the case due to lack of evidence, but the judge said “no.”
First-degree murder verdicts in Massachusetts automatically mean a life sentence.
Borges was 15 years old when he killed Viloria-Paulino in Nov. 2016, because he was jealous his girlfriend spent time with him.
Both of them were sophomores at Lawrence High School at the time of the crime, and Borges broke up with his girlfriend on Aug. 31, 2016, after accusing her of sleeping with Viloria-Paulino,.
“The defendant was tough on the outside but insecure on the inside,” Assistant District Attorney Jay Gubitose told the jury of nine women and seven men during one of the trial hearings on April 29.
“He was jealous” when he caught her sitting with Viloria-Paulino in the school cafeteria one day then and “started screaming at her.”
The prosecutors told the jury that Borges sent a message to his former girlfriend 24 hours before committing the crime. The message said: “The next time you see me, look at my eyes because that’s the last time they’ll be like that. They’ll be dead.”
In one of his messages to her earlier, Borges had said, “I think of killing someone and I smirk … It’s all I think about every day.”
Viloria-Paulino went missing on Nov. 18, 2016, and his beheaded body with severed hands was found by a dog walker at the Lawrence riverfront on Dec. 1. His head was found later by a state trooper in a bag nearby.
Medical examiners found 76 wounds on his decapitated body upon autopsy, according to WCVB. With so much trauma inflicted to the teenager, the examiner couldn’t determine if Viloria-Paulino was dead or alive when the head was removed.
Prosecutors said the victim’s house was burglarized by Borges and some of his friends and a surveillance video showed both the victim and the offender leaving the house together towards the direction of the river.
“Four figures go around (Viloria-Paulino’s) house and come back with duffel bags,” Gubitose said.
“The defendant told them he stabbed him to death and cut his head and hands off so he couldn’t be identified,” Gubitose told the jury.
No one from Borges family attended the trial, and he didn’t react when the sentence was read on Tuesday. “We are disappointed. But he had a fair trial,” said defense attorney Edward Hayden.
Viloria-Paulino family declined to comment, and after the trial was over, they walked away from the courthouse and down the street with their arms around each other.
“While no verdict would ever erase the pain and suffering that the Paulino family has experienced since their unspeakable, senseless loss, I hope today’s verdict will give them some sense of closure and comfort as they continue to mourn Lee’s tragic death,” Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque told Eagle Tribune.
Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said the sentence was justice for the victim’s family. “I hope Lee can rest in peace and that his family will find closure,” he said.
“Nothing can bring Lee Paulino back to his family, who obviously love and miss him very much. It is my hope that this verdict gives them some comfort and peace,” Blodgett said in a statement.