Judge allows cell-phone evidence in beheading case 

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff file photo  Mathew Borges of Lawrence,  seen during his arraignment in Lawrence District Court, is charged with first-degree murder in the 2016 death of Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, 16, of Lawrence.  

LAWRENCE — The defense for a Lawrence teenager accused of beheading his classmate was unsuccessful in getting his client's cell phone tossed from evidence in the first-degree murder case. 

Judge James Lang denied a request by Edward Hayden of Lynn, the attorney for Matthew Borges, to suppress the evidence retrieved from the cell phone that was seized by police.

Borges is accused of killing Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, 16, of 50 Forest St., who was last seen alive Nov. 18, 2016.

Among potential evidence found on the phone was a deleted message from October 2016 in which Borges allegedly wrote, "'You and I need to discuss demons we will face when the task is done,'" according to paperwork detailing Lang's decision. 

Cell phone records and text messages are among the potential evidence prosecutors said they have against Borges who was a classmate at Lawrence High School with Viloria-Paulino. 

Lang's decision also notes a family member of Viloria-Paulino's told investigators the late teen was researching "craziest and most drastic ways" to commit suicide prior to his death. 

Viloria-Paulino's body was found decapitated on a riverbank off Water Street on Dec. 1, 2016. The teen's head was found a short distance away by investigators.

Two days before the grisly discovery, however, investigators had questioned Borges and seized his cell phone.

Then, on Dec. 1, prior to the teen's body being discovered, police applied for a search warrant for Borges' phone.

"That same day, Lee's body was found by the Merrimack River. ... The nature of the investigation changed immediately from a missing person to a homicide," Lang wrote in his decision.

With the discovery of the body, "new priorities were established and pursued" and police did not immediately search Borges' phone, Lang wrote. 

So on Dec. 9, investigators obtained a new warrant to search the cell phone, Lang noted. 

Downloaded material from the phone include photos, audio clips and text messages.

Among the messages was one from Borges to a female friend dated Nov. 17 "in which he stated the words to the effect, "I'm a bad person. I do bad things. The next time you see me I will have dead eyes," according to Lang's decision.

"There were other similar messages from Borges "during the time frame after Lee went missing," Lang wrote. 

Justifying the phone seizure Lang wrote, "... the police did not know at the time of the seizure of the defendant's cell phone where Lee was, nor whether he had run away, killed himself or come to some harm at the hands of another."

Lang also noted investigators "sought and obtained a warrant to search the defendant's cell phone before any further search of the device was made." 

Hayden also filed a motion asking for statements Borges made to police when he was initially questioned Nov. 23, 2016 to be suppressed. Lang also denied that motion.

That day, Lawrence detectives Kevin Schiavone and Jay Heggarty questioned him at his 85 Oxford St. apartment and then drove him to the riverbank where he and Viloria-Paulino allegedly smoked marijuana together. 

Schiavone spoke to Borges' mother via phone that day. Borges was not handcuffed or taken into custody at that time. 

"It should have been clear even to a 15-year-old that he was in custody at any time during the interview. That being so, the police were not required to advise him of his Miranda rights, nor provide him with an opportunity to consult with an interested adult," he wrote.

"The court also concludes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's statements were made voluntarily and in the exercise by the defendant of a rational intellect and his free will. ...The officers made no promises to him and they engaged in no trickery or coercive tactics of any kind. They were above board and professional. In sum, the investigators merely asked for the defendant's cooperation in their efforts to locate Lee and he chose willingly and voluntarily to speak to them," Lang added.

'Nothing to do with Lee going missing' 

Lang's decision also includes references to the investigation by Lawrence detectives into the missing person's report initially filed Nov. 19. 

His family told police he came home from school the previous afternoon, Nov. 18, 2016, "ate dinner and then stated that he was going to bed because he was tired."

"His family members stated that was the last time that they saw him," Lang wrote. 

Heggarty was assigned as the principal investigator in the case and over the next few days the detective spoke to Viloria-Paulino's family members, a teacher and numerous classmates, according to paperwork.

Shortly after he was reported missing, Viloria-Paulino's aunt told Heggarty she was able to access the teen's "iCloud" account and "had observed that several weeks earlier Lee had conducted a Google search for the craziest and most drastic ways to commit suicide," Lang wrote. 

Due to this, Heggarty contacted area hospitals to see if Viloria-Paulino had been admitted. 

Viloria-Paulino's aunt also told Heggarty that surveillance camera footage from in front of the teen's Forest Street home was available, Lang wrote.

The video showed Viloria-Paulino arriving home Nov. 18 at 3:36 p.m.

At 4:11 p.m., "a young man with bushy hair," believed to be Borges, came to the house. At 5:40 p.m., Viloria-Paulino and the teen believed to be Borges left the house. 

Minutes later, the second-floor apartment where Viloria-Paulino lived was robbed by four young males, believed to be teens, who are seen on the surveillance video, according to paperwork. Viloria-Paulino's family members later discovered "an X-Box or game station" was missing from the apartment, along with a backpack belonging to Lee. 

Schiavone, who first approached Borges at his home, explained he was looking for Viloria-Paulino and asked for the teen's help. 

"The defendant replied that he knew Lee and he would help in any way he could," Lang wrote. 

Heggarty soon joined the discussion, during which Borges described Viloria-Paulino as a business associate more than a friend and said they both sold "weed, meaning marijuana." 

"During their conversation, Detective Schiavone noticed some cuts on the defendant's hands and asked him how he got them," according to paperwork. 

Borges said he got in a fight in South Lawrence a few days earlier.

Borges told detectives he had smoked marijuana on the riverbank on the evening of Nov. 18, Lang's decision further states.

Borges "eventually told Lee that he had to go and Lee stated that he wanted to stay. ... He then left Lee at the river to walk home and, at that time, Lee was still listening to music and smoking marijuana."

"The defendant stated that he did not see Lee again," wrote Lang, noting Borges denied hurting Viloria-Paulino and said "he had nothing to do with Lee going missing."

Borges is due back in court April 13.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.