Sister of woman murdered by adoptive son takes stand
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The sister of a South Florida woman who, prosecutors contend, was murdered by her adopted son, took the stand in court Wednesday.
Michaela Tsiera is a witness for the prosecution in the murder trial of 23-year-old Gerard Lopes Belmonte, who stands accused of killing Tsiera's sister and his adoptive mother, 43-year-old Natalie Belmonte. Prosecutors say his semen was found inside her body, and he murdered her to cover up his rape of her.
"We were best friends, sisters. I talked with her everyday, five times a day," Michaela Tsiera said.
The defense plans to counter that the sex between the two was consensual. But on the stand, Wednesday, Tsiera said there was never any such relationship. "My sister never conveyed, in any manner, verbal, body language, in any way, that there was any sort of sexual relationship between her and her son."
Also in court, an expert who testified the semen found inside Belmonte belonged to Lopes. "The sexual contact probably happened within the last few hours of her life," said DNA expert Christopher Cromar.
Lopes stands accused of beating his adoptive mother, strangling and then suffocating her to death in her Pembroke Pines home in 2011. According to authorities, the adoptive mother and son had gone to a party earlier that night and had returned to her residence about 2:30 a.m.
According to prosecutors, when police found Belmonte's body in a marsh near the home, it was found badly decomposed. Pembroke Pines Police Detective Edward Bolligerd testified, "and as we got closer, there were buzzards on the ground and the smell was getting worse, and then obviously, as we got closer, the buzzards flew up to get away from us, and then I discovered the body."
Also shown Wednesday, photos after police arrested Lopes. They show bruising on his body and cuts on his hand, which prosecutors say, will prove Lopes struggled with his mother before he killed her.
The jury was not present in the courtroom for Tsiera's testimony while the judge decided whether or not to admit it. However, by the end of the day, he decided that the jury will be allowed to hear it on Thursday.
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