Man convicted of murdering adoptive mother sentenced
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida man convicted of murdering his adoptive mother learned his fate in court Wednesday afternoon.
Twenty-three-year-old Gerard Lopes Belmonte was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his own adoptive mother, 43-year-old Natalie Belmonte.
Lopes walked into the courtroom to learn his fate, and immediately after the sentence was read, family members of both the victim and the man convicted were seen hugging, kissing and crying with one another.
Belmonte adopted Lopes when he was 8 years old when his father, Natalie's uncle, died. In July 2011, Lopes beat Natalie to death at her Pembroke Pines home and then dumped her body. Investigators found Lopes' semen inside of Belmonte.
Lopes' defense was one of a consensual relationship with his adoptive mother and that he was framed. It was a defense that the jury did not agree with.
Before issuing the sentence to Lopes, the presiding judge called him a "sociopath." "You dumped her half-naked and beaten body in a swamp," Broward Circuit Court Judge Matthew Destry said. "You did not even have the decency to cover her. What emerges from all of this is the portrait of a true sociopath. You have no conscience to guide you, Mr. Lopes, you have no empathy for others. A man who could do this to his own mother cannot walk free among us."
"We agree with that," Natalie's brother-in-law Alex Teixeira said. "It's tough but we agree with it."
"To throw her in the trunk like you're groceries, to dump her the way he did and to have absolutely no remorse," Family friend David Eiglirsh said. "He barely shed a tear from his eye, to feel that way and to act that way, it's clearly sociopathic behavior not to have any remorse."
Throughout the trial, the victim's other children heard the gruesome testimony about their adoptive brother. Lopes was described as being obsessed with his own mother. "This has always been hard for them because they have grown up with this man as their brother, but there's no doubt that this man killed their mother," Prosecutor Adriana Alcalde said.
A family statement was read immediately after the sentence, which said that Wednesday was a day to celebrate the life of Belmonte. "The stress and anguish this tragedy has caused our family has been unthinkable," Teixeira said. "Tonight, we plan to go home and celebrate Natalie's life."
The defense said they will appeal the conviction.
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