Lawrence teen convicted of first-degree murder in killing, beheading of high school classmate

SALEM, MASS. (WHDH) - A Lawrence teenager was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder in the killing and beheading of a high school classmate.

The jury delivered the guilty ruling less than a day after closing arguments wrapped in Salem Superior Court in the trial of 18-year-old Matthew Borges.

Borges, who showed no emotion as the verdict was read, is convicted of killing 16-year-old Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino on Nov. 18, 2016, because he was jealous the victim had spent time with his girlfriend.

Viloria-Paulino’s body was found along the banks of the Merrimack River by a dog-walker on Dec. 1, 2016. His head was found floating nearby.

The teens were classmates at Lawrence High School. Borges was 15 at the time but was tried as an adult.

Viloria-Paulino’s family filled two rows in the courtroom and could be seen crying as they heard the jury’s findings.

7’s Kimberly Bookman spoke with an emotional Katiuska Paulino, the victim’s mother, as she walked out of court.

“This is not really justice but it is a little piece of the puzzle,” she said.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett says he hopes the verdict will eventually bring peace to the Paulino family.

“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. “I wish to thank the jury for their service on this very difficult case. I also want to commend the entire prosecution and investigative team for their tireless pursuit of justice for Lee Paulino.”

Borges’ attorneys had argued that there was no physical evidence to link Borges to the death.

“We’re disappointed, of course. We thought we had a defense but the jury obviously worked hard,” defense attorney Edward Hayden told reporters.

Borges faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for July 9.

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