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Police Press Releases

Posted on: May 14, 2019


While no verdict could ever erase the pain and suffering that the Paulino family has experienced since their unspeakable, senseless loss, I hope today's verdict will give them some sense of closure and comfort as they continue to mourn Lee's tragic death. I am grateful for the hard work, dedication, and professionalism of District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Lawrence Police Detectives who worked tirelessly on this case. -Chief Roy Vasque

Essex County District Attorney’s Office


 A Lawrence teenager was found guilty this afternoon of first degree murder, following a nine-day trial in Salem Superior Court. 

 Mathew Borges, 18, was found guilty of murdering his classmate Lee Manuel Villoria-Paulino, 16, on November 18, 2016.  The victim’s decapitated body was found by a dog walker on the banks of the Merrimack River on December 1, 2016.  

 Judge Helene Kazanjian will impose a sentence on July 9 at 2:00 pm.  Since Mr. Borges was 15 when he committed the crime, he faces a sentence of life with the possibility of parole after 30 years. (In 2013, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the sentence of life without the possibility of parole for a juvenile was unconstitutional.)

 “Nothing can bring Lee Paulino back to his family, who obviously love and miss him very much.  It is my hope that this verdict gives them some comfort and peace,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.  “I wish to thank the jury for their service on this very difficult case.  I also want to commend the entire prosecution and investigative team for their tireless pursuit of justice for Lee Paulino.”

 Essex Assistant District Attorneys James Gubitose, Jessica Strasnick and David O’Sullivan represented the Commonwealth.  They acknowledged and thanked Essex Chief of Victim Services Maureen Wilson Leal for her assistance as well as all of the Lawrence Police and State Police detectives involved in the investigation, especially Massachusetts State Police detective Matt Wilson and Lawrence Police detectives Jay Heggarty and Angel Mejia.

 The defendant was represented by Attorneys Edward Hayden and Amy Smith.

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