LAWRENCE — After four days of listening to testimony, jurors in the Mathew Borges murder trial got to walk the riverbank where the remains of Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, 16, were found in late 2016. 

Wearing boots and rain coats, the jurors were bused from Salem Superior Court to Lawrence to see the riverfront off Water Street and a white apartment building on Forest Street where Viloria-Paulino lived with his family before he was murdered. 

The bus, escorted by Lawrence and state police, also went by the Guilmette and Bruce schools, Ames Street as well as areas on Haverhill and Margin streets. 

The Lawrence High School sophomore was last seen on Nov. 18, 2016 – the day Borges, then 15, went with him to smoke weed, talk and look at the lights along the Merrimack River, prosecutors said. 

Meanwhile that evening, a group of teens broke into Viloria-Paulino's apartment and stole electronics, clothing and belts, they testified earlier this week. 

Borges, who was tasked with getting Viloria-Paulino out of the house, later called the teens and told them he killed Viloria-Paulino and cut off his head, according to testimony. 

Viloria-Paulino's decapitated body was found on the riverfront on Dec. 1, 2016. His head was found nearby in doubled plastic bags. The teen's hands have not been found. 

Borges is on trial for the first-degree murder of Viloria-Paulino, a crime prosecutors say was premeditated and committed with extreme atrocity and cruelty. He was 15 at the time of the murder but is being tried as an adult. 

Ed Hayden, Borges' defense attorney, said his client is guilty of a break-in but not a murder and stressed the prosecution's witnesses were unreliable. 

Also, Hayden said, prosecutors have no murder weapon, no tool used for dismemberment, no blood, no fingerprints and no DNA. 

The purpose of the jury's visit to Lawrence, known as a "view," is to help the jurors "better understand what you'll hear during the trial," Judge Helene Kazanjian told jurors on Thursday. 

Attorneys were allowed to point out things to the jury during their visit. But jurors cannot ask questions, Kazanjian explained on Thursday. 

Kazanjian, along with court officers, attorneys and investigators involved in the case, accompanied jurors on the view. 

Throughout the trial and including during the view, the media is not allowed to photograph or question jurors.

An Eagle-Tribune photographer was asked to remain 75 yards away from the view group on Friday morning. 

The long-awaited murder trial opened in superior court on Monday morning. 

During the week, three young men, Jonathan Miranda, 18, Angel Betancourt, 20, and his brother, Nazario Betancourt, 17, all testified they had broken into Viloria-Paulino's home on the evening of Nov. 18, 2016, and stole electronics, clothes and belts. 

Borges' job was to distract Viloria-Paulino and get him out of his house, they said. 

Their testimony aligned with messages in a private Facebook group called "Game Winners." Copies of the messages were shown to jurors on courtroom screens. 

However, after they robbed Viloria-Paulino's Forest Street home, Borges called them and said he had killed Paulino, they testified. 

Miranda said Borges told him and several others within earshot that he "killed Lee and cut off his head." 

"He said he stabbed him" and cut off his head "so he wouldn't be caught," Miranda said. 

Angel Betancourt, who is nicknamed "Scooby," recalled the phone call and Borges saying, "My hands were bloody. He came at me the wrong way so I did what I had to do." 

Then, on Thursday, Nazario Betancourt, Angel's younger brother, said he heard Borges say, "He's dead." 

"After that, everything blanked out," he said. 

Hayden, on cross examination, questioned all three about crimes they had committed, including the break-in as well as lying to police afterwards. 

They all testified they had not faced any criminal charges. 

The trial is expected to stretch another two weeks. 

On Monday, prosecutors are expected to call a medical examiner to testify. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 

 

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