Lawrence teen who beheaded high school classmate sentenced to life in prison

SALEM, MASS. (WHDH) - A Lawrence teenager convicted of first-degree murder in the killing and beheading of a high school classmate in 2016 was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday.

Mathew Borges, 18, who was found guilty in the gruesome murder of 16-year-old Lee Manuel Villoria-Paulino, will be eligible for parole after 30 years, Salem District Court Judge Helene Kazanjian ruled.

Before handing down the sentence, Kazanjian said Borges acted in a premeditated and atrocious manner in savagely killing his friend.

“There is no sentence that I can oppose that will bring back Lee Paulino or answers the questions that will all have about how this could happen,” Kazanjian told the court.

The victim’s mother, Katiuska Paulino, urged the court to impose the maximum sentence.

“There are no more dreams for the dreamer, the brother, the writer and the poet that was Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino… He has been the soul of this family since he was born,” she said.  “We are the living dead after he was brutally ripped from our side.”

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

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

During his nine-day trial, prosecutors argued that Borges killed Viloria-Paulino because he was jealous the victim had spent time with his girlfriend.

Borges showed no emotion as the guilty verdict was read back in May.

“This vicious murder claimed more than just Lee Paulino’s life.  Its brutality was shocking to the community and tore at our sense of decency and humanity.  Most of all, it has devastated all those who loved Lee.  His family will never celebrate his graduation or his birthday.  They will never know what he would have become.  It is a loss that simply cannot be measured,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.  “Understanding that there is no number of years that can restore this family’s loss, it is my hope that they can now find some peace.”

Under Massachusetts law, a first-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole for adults. But parole eligibility must be added if the crime was committed as a juvenile.

Borges will receive 948 days of jail credit toward his sentence at Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Cedar Junction.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)