Gerard Lopes Belmonte Jury Starts Deliberations
The jury in the Gerard Lopes Belmonte trial started deliberations on Tuesday following a brief trial of a gruesome and tragic murder.
On Monday, the jury heard the closing arguments and will now decide the fate of Lopes, who stands accused of raping and murdering his adoptive mother, Natalie Belmonte.
The defense closed things out by trying to persuade that there is plenty of evidence to create reasonable doubt, including the argument that Lopes and Belmonte had consensual sex and that their relationship went beyond that of a mother and son.
The defense seemed to present a thin case, making the argument that Belmonte had many lovers since her divorce and that perhaps she was murdered by a boyfriend she had broken up with just days before she died.
The boyfriend, the defense said, may have witnessed the consensual sex between Belmonte and Lopes following a party the mother and son attended on the fateful night and attacked and murdered her in a fit of jealous rage.
The boyfriend then might have put on Lopes' clothes, the defense says.
The prosecution's case, meanwhile, seems like a slam dunk.
They presented the jury with testimony from Belmonte's sister, who said there was no way the two had a consensual sexual relationship. They also presented surveillance video of Belmonte and Lopes leaving the party and returning home together and then more video of a man who appears to be Lopes dumping Belmonte's body in the trunk of her car.
Assistant State Attorney Peter Holden replayed the surveillance video, which shows Lopes and Belmonte leaving for a party on the evening of July 16, 2011, then returning home at 2:49 the next morning. Later that morning, before sunrise, someone wearing Lopes' clothes emerges from the home and loads Belmonte's body in the trunk of her car.
The defense's argument that this was a jealous boyfriend dressed as Lopes is thin, the prosecution said.
Belmonte, who was Lopes' first cousin, adopted him after his father died in 2000.
She vanished following a graduation party she and Lopes attended in Pembroke Pines in July 2011.
The following morning, Lopes told family members that Belmonte had disappeared. Police eventually found that her purse, cell phone, and keys were still in the house.
Belmonte's decomposing body was discovered three days later, dumped in a wooded area.
Eventually, investigators were able to find witnesses who reported seeing blood-stained sheets being carried away by someone from a dumpster.
Police soon found the surveillance footage the prosecution presented, showing Lopes putting Belmonte's body in the trunk of her Lexus.
"He threw her away like she was garbage," Alcalde-Padron told the jury last Monday.
In their closing statement, the prosecution urged jurors to convict Lopes of first-degree murder.
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