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Testimony Continues in Trial of Teen Accused of Beheading Classmate

Mathew Borges, 18, was indicted in the murder of his 16-year-old classmate, Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino

What to Know

  • Mathew Borges, 18, was indicted in the murder of his 16-year-old classmate, Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, who was found decapitated.
  • Prosecutors said on Monday that Borges, who was 15 at the time of the murder, killed the victim out of an act of jealousy.
  • The defense argued there is no evidence that links the suspect to the murder.

Testimony continued Wednesday on Day 3 of the trial of a Massachusetts teen accused of beheading a classmate over jealousy, with witnesses saying 

Mathew Borges, 18, is charged with the murder of 16-year-old Lawrence High School classmate Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino back in 2016. The victim’s headless body was discovered by someone walking their dog along the banks of the Merrimack River. His head was found nearby.

Prosecutors said surveillance video shows Borges walking toward the river with the victim on the night of his death. A short time later, four people were seen breaking into Viloria-Paulino's home. Prosecutors said those people are friends of Borges who later told investigators he had admitted to killing Viloria-Paulino. 

On Wednesday, a witness testified that Borges told him he killed Viloria-Paulino and cut off his head. When asked if he told the witness why he beheaded the victim, the witness said the defendant told him he did it so he "wouldn't be caught." 

Next, Angel Betancourt, one of the four who allegedly broke into the victim's home and stole items while prosecutors say the defendant was at the river, testified that "the plan was to go into Lee's house and take some stuff." He said the goal was simply to separate the victim from the house. 

Betancourt also testified that after they completed the theft, the group got a call from Borges who told them "My hands are bloody. He came at me the wrong way so I had to do what I had to do."

Defense attorneys questioned both witnesses about why they originally lied to the police about their involvement and why they did not keep what they stole. 

Later in the day, jurors heard a redacted audio recording of Borges' interview with Lawrence Police Officer John Heggarty.

On the recording, which is from two days before Viloria-Paulino's body was found, Borges said he went with him to the river to smoke on the day he went missing. He said he left before the victim did and that this was the last time he saw him. 

Police say on the recording that Borges's story "doesn't make sense." 

An hour into the recording, the trial stopped for the day. The jury wil hear the rest at 9 a.m. Thursday. 

Tuesday was an emotional day of testimony for relatives of Viloria-Paulino, some grimacing as jurors listened to a state police trooper describing how he found the bag containing Viloria-Paulino's head floating in the Merrimack River.

State police Sgt. Brian O'Neill described how he saw a plastic Market Basket bag bobbing in the river and pulled it to shore using a stick. He opened the bag using sticks and found another bag with rocks inside.

"At that point I opened it up just enough where I could notice an ear," he said.

Jurors also saw gruesome pictures of the scene after hearing from the man who found the body while out walking his dog.

"As I approached I saw [the dog] sniffing at a particular area and when I looked I thought I saw a dead body but I wasn't sure because it was missing some limbs," Omar Medina of Lawrence said.

Jurors heard from the victim's uncle, Samuel Paulino, who said the family was frantically searching for Viloria-Paulino all weekend after he didn't come home.

Viloria-Paulino's grandmother, Ivelisse Cornelle, broke down when she talked about the last meal she made him and how he would always hug and kiss her and say, "Grandmother, I love you."

Prosecutors said during opening statements Monday that the murder of Viloria-Paulino was fueled by jealousy. They said Borges would get angry with his classmate when his then-girlfriend would speak to the victim.

Viloria-Paulino's headless body was discovered by a man walking his dog along the banks of the Merrimack River on Dec. 1, 2016. Prosecutors said the victim's hands had also been cut off and that his head was found nearby in a bag weighted down with rocks.

He was last seen alive on Nov. 18, 2016. The boy’s family said police never took the case seriously after they reported the victim missing two weeks before his decapitated body was found.

Prosecutors read Monday from a journal entry written by Borges that they said outlines the crime. "Go chill with him in his crib alone... bring duffel bag, wear bags on shoes, wear clothes you don't care about."

The defense, however, have argued that Borges is only guilty of being involved in the break-in and nothing more. They said there is no evidence he killed Viloria-Paulino.

The defense also said prosecutors are trying to escalate Borges' jealousy to murder. They also said he was in the early stages of dating a new girl.

Borges was 15 years old at the time of the killing, according to authorities. He is now being tried as an adult. He was ordered held without bail during a hearing on March 2017.


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