A teenager in Lawrence Massachusetts has been charged with killing and beheading his high school classmate and been found guilty of first-degree murder.
Jurors found 18-year-old Mathew Borges guilty of first-degree murder with premeditation and extreme atrocity/cruelty. The charge carries a minimum sentence of 25 to 30 years to life. Because he was just 15 at the time of the crime, he will be parole eligible.
The verdict was read after about nine hours of deliberations. The entire trial lasted 10 days. The victim’s family sobbed as the verdict was read, but Borges had no visible reaction.
“We felt happiness,” one of Viloria-Paulino’s family members said leaving the courthouse in Salem after the verdict. They said the verdict does not bring the teenager back, but it does bring them peace.
Borges was accused of killing 16-year-old Lawrence High School classmate Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino in November 2016. Prosecutors said 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. His head was found in a bag nearby. Investigators never recovered his hands. Prosecutors said in their closing arguments that “every piece of evidence” pointed to Borges.
“There’s no hidden mystery. The case is right in front of you,” assistant district attorney Jay Gubitose said.
On the first day of trial Stephanie Soriano, 18, read text messages she said Borges sent her in the fall of 2016. Soriano and Borges spoke almost daily from September 2016 until Borges’ arrest in December 2016, she said.
He often spoke of his “demons” and once sent her a message that read: “I think of killing someone and I smirk. It’s all I think about every day but I control myself. I see people I don’t like [and] that comes to mind. I’m going insane.”
On Nov. 17 2016, a day before prosecutors say Borges killed Viloria-Paulino, he asked Soriano if his eyes looked dead.
He then sent her a 48-second voice memo, which was played in court.
“Eyes that are dead are scary…makes you think about what that person has done. What they’ve been through. What they’ve seen. Eyes that don’t shine, that are full of darkness,” Borges said in the recording. “It’s just sad. It’s like these people are different. They’ve done things that make them lose their humanity. Like they have no soul they just have big black pupils.”
He told Soriano to look carefully at his eyes the next time she saw him. He would have dead eyes soon too, Borges told Soriano. “That may as well be the last time you see them like that again,” he told her.
Four young men testified that in a private Facebook group, they, along with Borges, plotted to rob Viloria-Paulino of clothes, belts and his PlayStation on Nov. 18, 2016. The group, called the “Game Winners” picked Borges to lure Viloria-Paulino to the Merrimack River to smoke weed while the others broke into his home.
While the two boys were at the river, prosecutors say Borges stabbed 16-year-old Viloria-Paulino 76 times, decapitated him and cut off his hands.
Viloria-Paulino’s body was found on the riverbank on Dec. 1, 2016. A Massachusetts State Police Trooper found the 16-year-old boy’s head wrapped in Market Basket bag bobbing in the water nearby. His hands have never been found.
“I heard him say, ‘He’s dead.’ After that everything blanked out,” a teenager, who the media was asked not to identify because he is underage, testified in court. Another witness, the newspaper reports, said Borges admitted that he “killed Lee and cut off his head.” Borges told his friends he beheaded Viloria-Paulino so he wouldn’t be caught.
Though all of the teenagers called to testify during the trial said Borges and Viloria-Paulino were friendly, two of Borges’ ex-girlfriends spoke about his jealous streak. Leilany DeJesus, who dated Borges during their freshman year of high school, spoke about an altercation between Borges and Viloria-Paulino at lunch. Soriano also remembered the argument in the lunchroom, though neither she nor DeJesus could specifically remember the cause.
DeJesus testified that when she and Borges broke up he asked her if she was sleeping with other boys at their school. He mentioned Viloria-Paulino by name, she said.
In text messages submitted as evidence by the prosecution, Borges got angry with Soriano for saying hello to Viloria-Paulino at school and not him.
“You went and said ‘Hi’ to Lee but not me,” Borges wrote in the text message. He later sent Soriano a message she was his and he would kill anyone “who get in way of me getting what I want.”
During trial, prosecutors read from a white notebook with clocks on its cover. This was Borges’ journal during his first years of high school, according to prosecutors. On Nov. 16, 2016 – two days before Viloria-Paulino went missing- Borges wrote a message.
“Go chill with him at his crib alone. Drink smoke and play it off. Kill him call JM and Scooby tell them pull up then take everything,” Borges wrote in the notebook. “Bring duffle bags. Wear gloves clean up mess. Wear bags on shoes. Wear clothes you don’t care about.”
During his closing argument Essex Assistant District Attorney Jay Gubitose pointed to this section of the journal and told the jury: “that’s a confession.” JM and Scooby reference Jonathan Miranda and Angel Betancourt, who both testified for the prosecution.
Hayden argued that the four young men, including Miranda and Bentancourt, were lying to jurors – as they did to police and a grand jury initially – to avoid charges. They are using Borges as a “get out of jail free card,” Hayden said in his closing argument.
This is probably the case, the other kids had to throw someone under the bus and well he did seem like the ring leader of it all. Either way this was a senseless killing of a young man who had his whole life ahead of him. For what? A fight over a girl? A girl who may or may not have been leading them both on for all we know. Or Mathew was already unstable (which seems more likely) and this just pushed him over the edge. I hope he is never released. If anything prison won’t help this kid, he needs a mental hospital with lots of security.
Prosecutors said Borges likely used a pocket knife with dragons on it that he often bragged about to his friends and girls.
“That’ll do the job,” Gubitose said in closing arguments Monday.
He said Borges had the motive and means to kill Viloria-Paulino.
“He made a plan,” Gubitose said. “He gave himself the opportunity.”
That alone is enough to convict him in my opinion. He left too much of a paper trail, but had obviously thought it out enough to plot a killing and he knew that he was doing wrong. The fact that he tried to clean up and or conceal his own identity and the victims just shows he knew he didn’t need to be caught. Anyone who shows that many signs of premeditation shouldn’t be able to plead insanity, just my opinion of course. Also these kids are dumb teenagers… I don’t know how this girl got to him or if it was mostly him fueling this. Either way NO HIGH SCHOOL RELATIONSHIP IS THAT SERIOUS! We’ve all be there, if you are a high school student just know you’ll be done one day and none of those assholes will matter. I promise. I hope his family may find some peace in it all. I hope Mathew is never released I believe he would be a danger to society for sure and to himself.